Last week was my dear friend Anita Holland’s birthday. It was a notable one. Friends flew in from around the country to celebrate.
One, Lorraine, flew in from Hawaii leaving in the middle of the night to get to Florida in time for the party. She’s was carrying one of the best gifts ever – a stunning handmade Lei that was made that very day. So many of Anita’s years were spent happily living in Hawaii, so this was a very special gift.
Little did I know until I saw Lorraine today that the gorgeous Lei barely made it – having gotten left behind while changing planes. In heroic burst of energy she turned back around and sprinted through the connecting terminal to find her first plane still at the gate. While I was admiring her love and dedication to her friend she looked at me and smiled and said, “I had to – it’s the Spirit of Aloha!”
That’s when I remembered that five years ago after returning from presenting Positive Leadership at a client’s 50thAnniversary Conference in Maui, I had a lot to say about that spirit and what it can contribute to your customer’s and employee’s experience.
I want to share that with you today.
Everyone I met at the conference was happy to be there – most were with spouses and many had whole families with them. A lot of smiling happy people. I loved it. Within a day we were all greeting each other with the word “Aloha.” It’s used to say both hello and goodbye.
As the days went on and I learned more about the island, its people, customs and language, I began to understand how Aloha is so much more than a greeting. In Maui, Aloha is a way of life, it’s a practice, a connection to the spirit of the land. It’s an invocation and a blessing. It’s an honoring of one another’s highest presence. It’s a joyful sharing of life and of love.
When people live Aloha, you can feel it.
Positive energy and emotion flow with Aloha. The spirit of Aloha puts the other first, and like the golden rule, suggests that when we deliver good unto others we bring goodness back to ourselves because we are all connected. Aloha recognizes that each person’s contribution to the whole is important.
I learned quickly that when in Maui, one should travel with tote bags since plastic bags have been banned on the island in respect for the ocean, the beaches, the marine life and the land. The elders teach that respect, beauty, love, consideration, mercy and compassion (along with joyfulness and fun of course) are all part of the practice of Aloha. I told you, it’s the island of love.
When people who practice Aloha are in customer facing positions the customers facing them can feel the depth of their caring and connection. It creates an experience that has meaning and depth. While there I was a frequent recipient of service that said Aloha. The bell staff, the concierges, the wait staff – the lady who actually called me by name when she delivered the wake up call at 6 AM – most of them fully embodied the Aloha spirit.
The customer’s experience (internal customers too!) is all about feelings – how we feel as a result of how you treat us, how we feel about whether or not you deliver the value we’re looking for – or something better, how well we feel you are taking care of our needs.
Some of those needs are emotional.
We want to feel valued, appreciated, respected, heard, seen, recognized, and sometimes even loved.
While the Aloha spirit comes easier in Paradise than it does in Pittsburgh, it’s a practice and any practice can be learned with sufficient desire.
Would you like your customer experience to say ALOHA? Try these 7 steps.
1. Choose it. You have the ability to choose the things you want to BE- the BE Attitudes you want to embody. Go for it.
2. Get into present moment awareness. Paying attention to your breath is the easiest way to get there. Be present and sincere in all your interactions.
3. Open up. Listen to what the customer is saying and what he or she is not saying.
4. Extend warmth and caring (and compassion and forgiveness when necessary).
5. Respect others for the gifts that they bring – everyone brings something.
6. Honor others – let the noble part in you connect with the noble part in them.
7. Spend time in nature. Notice how nature has cycles of renewal, give and take, and wisdom in its ways. Slow down and do take time to smell whatever’s blooming. Keep living things around you and shower them with ALOHA too.
Are you delivering on the kinds of emotional experiences your customers crave? If not, call me, let’s talk. 561-279-0027
PS And if you are in the business of serving food, do try her book “Anita – at Your Service” It’s came out in time for her birthday!