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Remarkable Required

I am a sucker for a “good human” story, which makes me an even bigger sucker for a good-humans-making-great-brand story. When I saw the below image come across my Facebook feed last night, it completely transformed my sentiments toward Red Lobster. (Which, until that point, has been pretty “meh-whatever.”)

Inevitably, I ended up on a Reddit page where people were discussing their experiences on the receiving end of remarkable moments of surprise and delight. Reading the posts left me wondering what the world would be like if we all worked for companies that set aside a fund for doing good. What if every company culture was founded on the belief that creating remarkable moments should be a required part of every job? My prediction? Employees would be happier. More innovation would be going on. Consumers would feel a stronger sense of brand loyalty.

After all, a logo is nice, but at the core…branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Kudos to you, Red Lobster, for giving people a reason to talk behind your back.

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After 31 anniversaries in a row at the same Red Lobster the husband passed away from cancer, his widow came to the Red Lobster with her daughter to keep the tradition alive and got this instead of a bill. [source]

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“My dad passed away at the end of May. The evening of the day he passed we had some extended family at my parents house, whom had been there for support while he was in hospice. We ordered 3 large pizzas and a large, family-sized salad from our favorite delivery place, Pagliaccis. We’ve been ordering from them for years and they know our family. When the delivery came, we went to the door and found they had sent two people, a driver and a manager, to deliver the pies, along with a condolences note from the staff. Our order was complimentary and we were in tears. Large Pagliacci pies run upwards of $26 (they’re worth it), so they comped us about $80. The note was what made it so personal, and touching. All in all, a great local company that will always hold a special place with our family. My dad grew up in the Bronx and always said it was the closest Seattle came to NY-style pizza. It was his favorite.” [MariHawk]

“I’ve worked at a restaurant that was in the same “tier” as a red lobster and all of our floor managers as well as bar managers had a comp budget allocated to them each shift. They could use that budget to pay for free food for a table; discount a bill; give the staff a free meal as part of a sales contest etc. This budget was only for going above and beyond; if we screwed up we would just comp the bill out of a different account. We actually coached and trained our managers on using their budget to its fullest.” [NeuralNos]

“I worked at Longhorn in college (owned by Darden, same as Red Lobster) and we did shit like this all the time. The managers are actually REQUIRED to write 3 examples of “above and beyond” service from their staff every single night at closing (I’ve heard of several other chain places that have this rule, too, even up to Ruth’s Chris, where I also worked for a while). One time I had a little girl crying at my table because she somehow lost her teddy bear and my manager gave a hostess company money to run to Walmart and buy her a new one.” [NOODL3]

“I worked as a server at a Red Lobster and had a super sweet older couple that were regulars of mine. One trip they told me that I wouldn’t be seeing them for awhile as the husband was having major surgery and she didn’t drive. I got their address before they left that evening, and spoke to management about their situation a couple days later. My management sent them a gift certificate for two meals of their choice to be spent on their next trip, or for takeout if they wanted while he was laid up. Don’t forget, it’s people who run the giant corporations.”

  • Craig Elimeliah

    I had a similar experience staying at the Loews hotel in Santa Monica http://webicrat.blogspot.com/2012/09/social-concierge.html

    • Amy

      Craig,

      What an AWESOME story. Loews already stole my heart with their SUPER dog-friendly policies …but this is just amazing. KUDOS to their social manager. That’s what it’s all about!

  • huebnerc

    It’s one thing to have these policies, but it is another thing to make them expectations and to give employees the means to act on them. One reason why I loved working at Starbucks was the expectation that we would “surprise and delight” customers. Secondly, we were then given the ability to do so. We had many customers who showed that they valued us through tips, conversation and even presents! It was empowering to have the ability to give something (even if it was as little as a free drink) back. These are all awesome examples!

    • Amy

      Totally agree. Saying “you should do this” is not even in the same ballpark as “We want to make this a weekly/daily goal…and here is your stipend to make that happen.” I imagine as time goes on (and more brands discover the value in this kind for thinking) we’ll eventually see S&D (surprise and delight) roles become a thing, but i really does take the whole village. Every employee is an opportunity to create something remarkable.

  • KWP

    Loved the news story this morning of IKEA increasing minimum wage just because it’s the “right thing to do” … recognizing its people are IKEA … and valuing them accordingly…care is infectious