We have a saying in the office “Take me to the cauliflower” – it wasn’t introduced as a conscious part of our culture but it’s very much alive and I think it’s here to stay!

Customer service is a primary focus at ramsac it is linked to everyone’s personal development plan (PDP) and it’s something that we constantly measure – the fundamental focus is on always making IT simple for our customers.

One day last year I found myself frustrated in hearing a couple of conversations in the office (and observing some behaviour) which suggested to me that sometimes we were failing on the wow side of our making IT simple service, one that my leadership team strive to make a constant.

Later that day we had a scheduled company briefing (as we do at the beginning of each quarter). I decided to use the opportunity of having everyone together to discuss my observations.

When it came to the time, I chose to create an analogy for them and discuss the principles rather than the specifics. My story went something like this:

Imagine if you will that you are in a supermarket, it’s a supermarket that you’ve never visited before and you are unfamiliar with its layout.

You enter the store and find the wine section (this was your mission), you spend some time selecting the wine you want and then you suddenly realise that you also need to buy a cauliflower! (In all honesty I don’t know where that came from, I was thinking on my feet, but a cauliflower it was and that it will always remain!).

You turn around looking for a member of a staff who can help you and you spot someone in the regulation store uniform, you approach them and say “Excuse me, I’m looking for a cauliflower please can you tell me where they are?”

If you are in a Waitrose, all of a sudden you are surrounded by staff who gently lift you and carry you to the fruit and veg section, they talk you through the array of domestic and exotic variants of cauliflower they have on offer, perhaps suggesting cooking tips or even matching the brassica to your wine selection! When you’ve selected your item they ask if you need anything else and then help you to the checkout, probably feeding you grapes and helping you to pack your wine and cauliflower before wishing you a nice day.

If you are in a Sainsbury’s, the member of staff would probably smile, walk you to the end of the wine aisle, point out that the fruit and veg are three aisles along and tell you that the cauliflowers are on the right hand side.

If you are in a budget supermarket I imagine the staff member might look at you disdainfully and tell you that they don’t know, grunt and walk away.

The point is that as a customer in all three cases you asked the same question, but depending on the store you are using will depend on the response and the customer experience you receive.

I went on to say that in all cases; whether the customer is internal or external; if someone asks you for help please ensure that metaphorically you ALWAYS take them to the cauliflower.

And that was that, or so I thought.

The story clearly hit home with everyone, first people started commenting on service they witnessed outside of ramsac which obviously didn’t meet the cauliflower ideals, and then it entered our own everyday parlance.

I soon witnessed one of my managers asking a member of staff for some information, they responded immediately with what was technically the right answer, but it was brief and not altogether as helpful as it could be, without having to say anything else the manager simply said “That’s not really taking me to the cauliflower is it?!” the effect was immediate as you can imagine.

“Take me to the cauliflower” has become a phrase that both embodies what we do, and also allows anyone to challenge another colleague if they think they could be doing more.

I recently read Lead With A Story by Paul Smith and he extols the power of storytelling in the business world, I completely agree with him and my simple cauliflower story, designed to ensure that we always deliver amazing service, is a great example of this.

I urge you personally to ensure that when you’re helping anyone, you always strive to take them to the cauliflower, if for whatever reason you don’t know where the cauliflower (or whatever!) is, simply take the time to tell them how you would suggest finding it rather than saying you don’t know, or even worse, grunting and walking away!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this story too and that you find it useful.

Rob MayRobert May

MD of ramsac ltd www.ramsac.com

Robert May has been Managing Director of ramsac (the award winning IT business) for the last 23 years; he also acts as an outsourced IT director for numerous clients and is therefore involved in many different types of business. During this time he has experienced many different employee and customer joys and challenges! Robert speaks passionately about the importance of team, culture and customer service in delivering business objectives.

Robert specialises in providing business strategy and technology design for ramsac clients. He is also an experienced industry writer and spokesperson, having been responsible for numerous white papers on embracing changes in technology.

Robert leads the committed team of ramsac directors and managers that all share his passion for ‘stress free technology’ so as to continue to build and develop the business, its ongoing growth and success and to ensure that they continue to deliver the sort of passionate customer service that has been part of the ramsac culture since day one.

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