What Makes An Employee Truly Engaged? A Story from the Frontlines of Customer Service

Corry van den Brink
Founder & CEO

The author reflects on their early career and the misconception of an "engaged employee" as a rule-follower. They share an experience at an amusement park where they encountered Jack, a rebellious employee who challenged norms. Jack's innovative approach to customer service changed the author's perspective, revealing that engaged employees question and invest emotionally in their roles. The story highlights the importance of such employees in delivering exceptional customer service and concludes with a call to embrace technology and human-centric approaches.

There's a common saying: "Experience is the best teacher." Sometimes, the most profound lessons come from the most unexpected places. Let me take you on a journey early in my career that reshaped my entire understanding of what an "engaged employee" really is.

The Rule-Follower Myth

As a budding manager, the phrase "engaged employee" seemed straightforward. It conjured up images of rule-followers: team members who showed up on time, did exactly what they were told, and didn't make waves. In a sense, I thought an engaged employee was like a well-oiled cog in the intricate machinery of customer service—efficient but predictable.

But as they say, life has a funny way of correcting your course when you least expect it.

The Rebel at the Amusement Park

About one year into running an amusement park, I met Jack. He was unlike anyone I'd managed before. Jack was never shy about speaking his mind, challenging procedures, or even butting heads with me.

Picture this: Team meetings were a mix of excitement and subtle tension whenever Jack was in the room. Yes, he was polite, but you could feel the unspoken dialogues bustling beneath the surface. I'll admit, he frustrated me. While outwardly courteous, my inner monologue often revolved around my packed schedule and the many tasks that still needed doing.

The Turning Point

One fateful afternoon, we were brainstorming about how to elevate the park's customer service. We were pondering how we could infuse more personality into our interactions with guests. That's when Jack stepped up and presented a pre-ride speech he had crafted during his own time.

His speech was more than just your standard safety instructions. It was laced with humour, interactivity, and genuine warmth. More than that, it was tailor-made for our specific park's atmosphere.

And then it hit me like a roller coaster: This is what an engaged employee looks like.

The Epiphany

An engaged employee isn't just a rule-follower. They're someone who questions why those rules exist in the first place when they feel there could be a better way. They're not just clocking in and out; they're mentally and emotionally invested in their roles. They want to contribute, to make a difference, to add value.

That encounter served as an awakening for me. Developing and attracting employees like Jack became not just a mission but a passion of mine.

The Real Spark

Engaged employees are the soul of exceptional customer service. They are the spark that can ignite an extraordinary guest experience. It was a lesson I needed to learn, and I'm grateful that Jack was there to teach me. So, next time you think about what an engaged employee should be, remember: they're not just cogs in a machine. They're the electricity that keeps the machine running at its peak.

As someone at the helm of driving digital guest experiences, I understand the power of personalized interactions. Engaged employees infuse this personal touch into every facet of their work, blending perfectly with the ethos of a technology-first yet human-centric approach, like the one we foster at Arii.

Want more engaging stories and insights into the world of customer service and technology? Follow us on LinkedIn, and let's propel digital guest experiences into the future.

May 1, 2024