Vulnerability is exposure. It is opening one’s self up to criticism, learning, discomfort, and joy. It can be a worst nightmare and an opportunity for genuine connection and joy.
It can switch in a nanosecond.
I have a reoccurring memory pop into my mind about being the only one standing up in a room of 300 people. I was asking a question at my new university on my very first day on campus. As I stood up, my brain froze, my vision blurred, and I’m certain I looked as nervous as I was. Three-hundred sets of eyes burning through me, and I was hoping someone would send help; I never want to feel that again. I never want anyone to feel it either. Not on my watch.
It wasn’t until I started my work a Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas that I began to recognize the importance vulnerability had on delivering quality service. I observed people walking into our entrance and freezing, not knowing where to go; the short burst of panic that set in, the discomfort of being in a new place and not having the information to make a quick decision. My training told me it was a service opportunity.
Since then my studies have expanded, my empathy and awareness for it heightened, and my thoughts on it simplified. Let’s oversimplify for a moment and take a look at the two simple types of vulnerability as it pertains to service and creating remarkable experiences.
Like cholesterol, there’s Bad Vulnerability and Good Vulnerability. If you work with people, there are service opportunities in eliminating bad vulnerability and discomfort. Take the time to do a visual or physical walkthrough of your service processes or your building. Heighten your awareness of your surroundings and look for areas where people may have decisions to make.
When I do events, I start the visualization process from the moment our guests learn about the event and start asking myself questions about how they are feeling and what confusion may exist. I do this repeatedly from start to finish then address those issues in advance. For example, if I have a multi-day event, I make certain that the last thing my guests have when they leave for the night is a clear idea of what the next day holds. This may include a schedule of events, maps to the venue, my phone number again, signs posted, or having a staff member stationed at the exit to answer questions and leave a positive impression on the group. We provide whatever is needed to eliminate the feeling of discomfort.
Here are a few questions that might help you get started on your way to eliminating bad vulnerabilities at your business;
· When answering the phones, make certain your staff is asking the right questions and providing valuable, concise information.
· If a first-time visitor is coming to your office, do they have a clear idea BEFORE they arrive what or who to look for?
· Upon arrival at your workplace, do people know where to go? Do you have staff in the right spots and antiquate signage?
· Have you taught your retail staff what mannerisms to look for in a shopper? How to greet them and tell if they want to be left alone or really need some help?
It is not confirmed scientifically, but I believe strongly in the following line graph;
What we see: as the amount of vulnerability increases, so does the value in solving, or eliminating it. Simply, point A on the graph may be having well-placed signage, while point B may be speaking with a foreign guest in their native tongue.
The guest seeing your sign (point A) may not even notice, but is comfortable, whereas the foreign speaking guest (point B) may be ecstatic as you are the first person who can really help them since their command of English is limited.
Generalized Summary Notes
· Bad Vulnerability (Unnecessarily vulnerable, discomfort) = service opportunity for you and gratitude from the recipient (somewhere on a scale of: not recognized to ecstatic).
· Solve Bad Vulnerabilities with: directives, information, action.
· Human skillset necessary to solve them: Situational Awareness, Empathy.
In summary, bad vulnerabilities are, in most cases, wholly avoidable when you are aware of the situation and environment you are in. With excellent preplanning, some visualization or physical walk-throughs, and keen awareness you can prevent discomfort in your guests, and set yourself up to provide the very best customer service. Additionally, your awareness may also limit the number of agitated guests you see because you’ve eliminated confusion or embarrassment.
In Part II of this blog, we’ll address the Good Vulnerabilities and how to use them to create indelible memories, camaraderie, and connection with your guests.
If you have questions about Service, events, or any of the topics in this blog, please contact me at: