My family just returned from vacation, visiting national parks/monuments: National Arches, Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands. The trip was wonderful, the sites powerful and majestic. The sites vary in their size and stature, but we enjoyed each one for its own unique reasons.
One aspect that did not vary was the quality of the Park Rangers. I am still amazed at this. No matter who we interacted with or where, Rangers at the visitors center, Rangers giving walking tours, Rangers emptying garbage, to name a few, they were pleasant, knowledgeable, and made us feel like they were thrilled to have us in the park.
What were the traits that made the interactions so positive? It’s not rocket science, yet, it is rare enough in the service industry to be amazing when they come together:
1. Be Happy
We did not interact with one ‘grumpy’ Ranger. Think about when you interact with a salesperson, cashier, customer service rep on the phone, etc. and how you feel when they treat you as a bother. The Rangers either are, or act as though they are, happy in their jobs. And not every Ranger is doing glamorous work; there is garbage to be emptied, rude people to deal with, etc. Yet, we were always greeted with a smile and genuine interest.
I believe some of this comes from the fact that the Park Rangers are allowed to have a personality. Southwest Airlines is always used as an example of a company doesn’t want their employees to check their personalities at the door; I would say we can add Park Rangers to the list of good examples.
2. Have a story to tell
The history of the national parks, both collectively and individually, is a great story. Just as important though, the Rangers know the stories. We had a wonderful Ranger at the Grand Canyon who gave a 20 minute discussion on the natural history of the Grand Canyon, including his humorous 2-second explanation “The river cuts in and the sides fall down.”
3. Be Informative
The Rangers know their parks. They know where the bison have been spotted, when the next Ranger program is, or where to find the next gas station. I could have called this item ‘be engaged‘ because if you don’t care about your job you are not going to take the time to know all the little things. We never left with a question unanswered.
4. Involve new customers
The National Park system has a Junior Ranger program for kids. Each park is a little different but usually involves learning at the visitor center, then something involved in walking around the park. When they are done they get a Junior Ranger badge. My kids are already talking about going back to parks.
5. Meet my needs
Most people come to the visitor center with similar questions. Yet the Rangers listen to your specific needs as if it’s the first time they’ve been asked. Have a young child and want a short trail? They will tell you. Want to go off the beaten path and see some wild life? They will point that out. When we arrived at a park, we found a Ranger, told them our timeframe and what we liked to do, and each time the Ranger gave us recommendations.
Take these attributes, apply them to your people, your service, even your software or website. Are you leaving your customers thinking about your service in the way I’m thinking about the Rangers? Why not?