I’m proud of my friend Chris, as he has proven to be superb deliverer of guest services. We met again this past weekend at Fan Expo as it turned out we were both doing liaison guest work. He put me to shame as after a long conversation with him last night I realized all the things I had been doing wrong all weekend.
In general, I have a lot to learn from Chris in regards to how to service delivery while having fun at the same time! So in summary, I’d like to hypothesize what he would do in the same situations I encountered or “What Would Chris Do?”
1) Slow down…Relax…Keep Things Simple
My guest Shawn is an adult, but I felt like I had to be very attentive and almost maternal as once he turns “on” for the fans, I have to be “on” too; in order to make sure he meets his schedule, eats, go to the bathroom, sign all the autographs people line up for, take all the pictures people line up for, etc. My maternal instinct was on overdrive and I was like a rabid chipmunk mother. So I felt really stressed all the time as I was worried about meeting timing of events and keeping things moving along. I would over think how to efficiently do things by running multiple scenarios through my head, then things would change and I would freak out underneath (although I can’t show my stress on my face to my guest).
What Would Chris Do (WWCD) – Although he was doing transportation of all the guests, he kept a calm head and just did things without overcthinking. In the past at Anime North we would bump heads as I would worry about how inefficient he was being but in the end, the result is the same. So just think about the route from A to B and then just dive into it. Often, reality does not reflect the scenarios you think about as there are too many changing factors, such as people blocking the path or an elevator not working etc…Keeping calm at all times instead of freaking out is the best as you don’t waste energy on unnecessary emotional turmoil! Chris took the time to have fun under stressful situations and even calmed down other people!
2) Talk to Strangers and Smile!
This is a hard one for me to do, as I have been raised all my life as a female to not talk to strangers or smile as you worry you are inviting a disaster of some sort. There were many awkward situations of me standing there with strangers as Shawn would run off to talk to one guest and their assistants would be there, often unsmiling. There was one man who kept looking at me and I was worried he wanted something I couldn’t give. It turns out he was an agent and could have been scoping me out. Argh! Missed my chance for stardom!! In general there was lots of odd silences which could have been avoided if I reached out, but was worried about reactions of people and if they had the time to even talk back since everyone is on a busy schedule. Also, I don’t speak very loudly so sometimes when I tried, people didn’t hear me.
WWCD – Chris is a very cheerful guy and when you first meet him, he loudly says hi, then shakes your hand. He is very genuine and sincere with people. He didn’t worry about potential walls of unsmiling people or what people might be doing next. This is a hard thing for me to do as a germaphobe since I worry about hand germs a lot. Sigh. But I know I have to learn to speak loudly and shake hands as it is a “North American/European” gesture of friendliness. I found myself bowing a lot all weekend perhaps due to my Asian background. So I think I have to do both, bow to the fans when they meet my guest as a hospitality gesture and shake hands more with strangers. It’s so hard to break out of your shell when most of your spare time is spent hiding and typing…
3) Don’t Over Focus on Your Guest
This is an anti-Japanese/American idea, as the usual ideal for customer service is to only focus on the guest. There were a few times where I could get pictures with other guests, so I would leave Shawn on his own and run over for a snapshot. Thinking back, I don’t remember if I thanked them for taking the time to do that with me as I was so worried about getting back to Shawn. It was like he was my baby and I couldn’t just leave him on the street on his own. But he is an adult and he will survive a few more minutes without me as I take the time to talk to other guests properly. He complained that I would leave him for “other men” but he was laughing, so I knew that I didn’t offend him.
WWCD – Chris handled multiple guests, but he told me stories about taking the time to drink with one, then have a cigarette with another. He had a great time and divided his attention equally. I know I was assigned to only one guest, but when I meet the others, I need to learn to focus my attention on them right away, even if it’s for a few minutes. Again, I have a hard time talking to strangers and my default position is one of shyness/introvert. But Chris had such a great time and got to know all of them, so I think he did a much better job than me at creating an impression. Memory wise, the guests would remember a cool guy they hung out with and then there was that crazy Asian girl that ran around like crazy, not thanking or talking to people properly.
Really messed up with Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy, Star Trek) on this one as I didn’t get a chance to read his bio, so I asked if he was British which made me seem silly as he is from New Zealand. Need to read more bios next time!
4) Have fun!
As you can imagine from the scenarios above, I was not exactly a great person to hang out with as I was like a mother worried about her child most of the time. My guest had a great time, Chris had a great time and I think I could have had a better time if I learn how to do things more like him.
It was a privilege to have done some guest work at this convention and hopefully next year I’ll have more fun if I get to work with Chris!
“Do your time, to pay the price
For every thing you’ve done wrong, baby
In your life, you get so high
There’s nowhere left to go but down
Don’t believe that no one cares
‘Cause we’re here waiting for you, baby
Do your time
and then come home for good”
-Sloan, Everything You’ve Done Wrong – an awesome song, popped into my head when I was thinking about writing all this!