I remember being a new mother and traveling alone with a new baby on several occasions. I was always grateful when a stranger asked if I needed assistance as they watched me navigate through airport corridors pushing a stroller, balancing car-seats on top of luggage, and attempting to clear security without much tribulation. The first time it happened to me, I was humbled that somebody even noticed my discombobulated self and offered assistance opening a door. I speculated if I had ever observed a parent struggling as much as I was, prior to that moment. A small act of service performed for me not only impacted my life at that juncture, but also has had me looking for a similar mother since to repay the kindness that was once delivered to me. I want to be that person that I was so grateful for on that first flight across country.
I train employees to predict the needs of clients/customers before the individual knows that they may need it. Truthfully, anticipatory service is one of the hardest principles to get employees to execute and embrace, but is fundamental in setting great companies and individuals apart from the competition and advances career opportunities. It requires genuine interest in others and the ability to listen thoroughly during communication. It is the epitome of phenomenal customer service and is what closes contracts. Anticipatory service is not just limited to any one industry and am learning is not just limited to the workplace.
In coaching others on this principle, I ask them to look for and observe examples of anticipatory service at home as our family relationships tend to be some of the most altruistic relationships that we have. Recently, I’ve been trying to put my own words into action and be more anticipatory of the needs of others outside of work and home, as well. It is something that requires genuine interest in others and the ability to listen thoroughly during communication. Can I offer a friend a ride before they ask? Can I furnish a needed classroom supply that I know may be scarce? Can I volunteer to help a colleague on a work project to ease their day?
Small opportunities to help others may go unnoticed if we don’t take more of an anticipatory approach in life. These occasions are the circumstances that make others’ lives easier as we deliver what they may not have known they needed prior to that moment. Since my endeavor on delivering anticipatory service outside of the workplace, I’ve had the opportunity to drive a newcomer to the correct location after being dropped off at the wrong bus stop, help someone search for their keys at the gym, and shovel snow from the walkway of an neighbor’s home that had the flu. It always hasn’t been convenient but has brought me the satisfaction that I have delivered service to someone in need. It’s what brings happiness back to me in the form of a sincere thank you or a gracious smile. It’s what businesses strive to achieve and are successful when they do. Anticipatory service crosses the boundaries of work and home and I’ve found that there are more than just anxious mothers in airports that may need my assistance. If we look and listen in anticipation of opportunities, we will be delivering extraordinary service to those around us.