7 Apples | Lessons from the Lower Level

7 Apples on a Saturday Night

I wish I had timed it. That standing ovation was like something I’ve not experienced before! The recipients were stunned, clearly touched by our expression of gratitude. We – The John Maxwell Team – were at the Marriott World Center in Orlando for our Certification Program and we were treated like royalty as we spent several days learning, eating and (barely) sleeping. When we arrived on the lower level in the mornings for our breakfast, cheerful staff greeted and guided us. Lunch and dinner were the same. It was like these employees were trained by the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ a couple of miles down the road. It takes a lot of planning, direction and hard work to cater to 600 people in one place at one time. From equipment set up to audio-visual technicians to event coordination to meals – one thing was clear – ordinary was not on their radar.

On the last day of training, President of The John Maxwell Team, Paul Martinelli, asked the Marriott staff to join us so we could show our appreciation. Yes, it was the staff of 40+ who received the longest, loudest standing ovation! Just as we thought it was dying down someone else would hoot and holler and we’d gain momentum all over again. It was quite extraordinary. One lady received ‘The One’ standout recognition for her overall attitude and how it influenced those around her, a process created by the hotel to acknowledge exceptional service. She cried and hugged Paul after he announced her name. We were most certainly wowed by her and all the others. Juan, Stephen and Filipe left their imprints on me throughout the days they served.

What lessons can be learned from both the incredible staff members and our stellar team?

  1. Attitude is everything. The employees were there to serve and had an attitude to make sure we enjoyed our experience. We were grateful recipients and made sure they knew we appreciated them.
  2. Above and beyond. They provided service beyond our expectations. We encouraged them to keep being their amazing selves and that it truly did impact our time together.
  3. They showed up. Those staff members were present in the moment, not distracted or zoned out. If I were to research a bit, I can bet their absentee rate is extremely low. We interacted with them as like-minded people, wanting to be our best, do our best.
  4. What you give you get. It was so intriguing to watch the reciprocal effect of kindness. We could have demanded first class service but we didn’t have to. As they extended themselves, we acknowledged it and responded in kind. It was a two way experience.
  5. Affirmation goes a long way. Do you think they will forget us any time soon? Not likely! Do you think it affirmed them? I sure do. Seeing them look at the ground, then up at us, then shake their heads in disbelief and even seeing a few tears, was an experience that will linger in my mind for a long while. That room was electric.
  6. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing incredibly well. We’ve all had poor customer service at some point in our lives, right? When we receive exceptional service, do we let them know or just walk away thinking, “It’s their job”? Do you enjoy acknowledgement for a job well done? Of course – human beings crave being affirmed, knowing what they do has value.
  7. Happy is as happy does. There really isn’t any sense being miserable when you’re in the customer service business. You have an opportunity to influence other human beings in a positive or negative manner. It doesn’t matter your level on the totem pole – you can always make someone’s day or do your best to destroy it.

I don’t know about you, but I sure hope I leave a mark on those I serve, ensuring they feel valued. Both the Marriott staff and the John Maxwell Team felt the impact of exceptional service, an event to remember as we served one another with smiles and kindness.

What do you do to provide a ‘Standing O’ experience for those in your world – home, work or otherwise?


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    "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Jack Kerouac
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