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Sep 14

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A Simple Approach to Great Customer Service from Pike’s Place Fish Market

Customer Service Lessons from Fish Sellers



I came across this book on display at a group team building activity in my former hotel. This Team Building company brings lots of different corporate groups to our hotel. This particular group was learning about providing Great Customer Service. The book looked like a children story book similar to the cover of “Who Moved my Cheese”. It even had a boring cover with just the word “Fish” and a drawing of a fish on it. So I just passed it by. Yes I am guilty of Judging a Book by its Cover. 
Then lately my present boss, highlighted of about Customer Service and how we can try to make the work more fun even for work that is boring and mundane. He highlighted about the Pike’s Place Fish Market in Seattle, America that is famous. People go there not only to buy fish but also to see the antics of the staff there. He said that there is even a motivational book written about this place. I remembered this book and got it. Like most books in this lens, its a simple to understand and a fun read. The book shares with you how to boost your employee morale and thus increases your revenue.

Seattle- Monday Morning
The story starts with an introduction on how a First Guarantee Financial supervisor named Mary Jane Ramirez life changed after the death of her husband within a year of moving to Seattle. And how she reluctantly accepted a promotion to manager of the dreaded third floor. A department which is the joke of the other departments in the bank. A place that everyone wishes they didn’t need to come in contact with. Some department managers say that the third floor is able to suck the life out of you. Working there she realized why people dreaded coming to third floor. It was due to staff doing everything slowly. She then pondered on how she can bring life to the third floor. She noticed that the job was boring, so she needs to make the job exciting.
One day to avoid hearing negative comments about her new department during lunch breaks. She normally goes for lunch by the waterfront, but today she happens to take a turn towards the market. Here is where she finds the world different from what she knows. She finds the Famous Pike Place Fish Market. She is amazed at the energy of the people selling fish there. They seem to enjoy their work. In between the chaos she happens to chance upon Lonnie, one of the workers there. Lonnie offered to explain how she can use the Fish Market’s strategy in her workplace. The very next day, during her lunch break she rushes to meet up with Lonnie. He explains that all jobs are boring. Then he goes on to say the first strategy that makes the Pike Place different from the other fish markets, the first strategy is as follow. The first strategy is “There is always a choice about the way you do your work even if there in not a choice about the work itself” 

Choose Your Attitude 
Lonnie shares with Mary Jane how he and his friends changed their attitude when they come to work everyday. Everybody thinks working in a dreary,wet and cold fish market can be a difficult job but Lonnie and his friends come to work with the right attitude. With this thought in her mind, Mary Jane went back to work and confronted her boss on what was commented by the big bosses in the meeting. Her boss then gave her a recording of the meeting. Mary Jane started to notice that by changing her attitude, she in turn changed her surroundings. Everything started to fall in place and she plan to bring this same attitude to work on Monday morning. She makes a note that she have to change her attitude first before she can change others. On Monday morning she calls for a meeting with her staff and highlighted the concerns of the VP and how he referred to the third floor as toxic energy dump. After her talk, she found out her staff wanted to change but they needed a push. She saw some improvement in their attitude.

Play 
The second ingredient was what kids do best and we forget to do as we go older which was PLAY . Lonnie teaches that the fish market uses play in their daily work and with that they enjoy their daily job. The benefits of using play in our daily work life is productivity improves, there is a low turn over, teamwork and friendships. This I noticed in my present job, I am so afraid in failing or looking bad to my bosses. I didn’t enjoy myself therefore I felt work was boring. Even in my home life, me and my other half used to be playful but lately we both became serious and had a lot of arguments. So now I changed my attitude and played more at work and at home.

Make Their Day 
The third ingredient to great customer service was to include your customers in your play. This will give a lasting impression to your customer. People will always remember something unique that they have done. Include your customers but don’t go overboard.

Be Present 
The last ingredient is to be present. This is an important ingredient that I am trying to teach my managers. A manager have to be present in the restaurant. He have to be seen talking and showing concern about the food and beverages served. I learnt this technique from a manager in my former place. There we had a very slow kitchen, where food normally comes out after 1 hour. What most people do is to normally hide in the kitchen. So naturally we received a lot of complains. But what one new manager did was to go from table to table talking and assuring the customer the food will be out. He made sure the food came out fast and hot. He keeps telling the staff if the food is served steaming hot, then the customer will know that the kitchen is slow. If its served cold then the customer will think we were slow in pickup

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  1. Create a buzz with a Festive Bazaar. | Restaurant Promo Ideas

    […] as well as a unique experience. A concept that originated from reading the book known as “Fish” a customer service story about the Famous Pike’s Place Fish Market. As for Christmas we created a […]

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