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ProTip: Anticipation is Critical in Service (and Hockey)

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.

-Wayne Gretzky

The start of a new year is a great time to think about looking ahead. This usually means making fresh goals, which is certainly something we've talked about in the past. But it can also mean thinking about the concept of anticipation. Being proactive. Seeing the future. However you care to think about it, it's all about using what you already know to predict what will happen next.

And here's what's truly important: once you have a good idea what will happen next, you do something about it (it's a no procrastination zone here). You see the floor is wet, so you put down a mat before someone slips. You stash some cash in your glove box for the next time you end up somewhere that doesn't take charge. You make twice as much food as usual, guessing your children will bring friends home with them after school. When you do this, you are playing where the puck is going to be, and you are making your life easier.

So what about doing the same for others? When we fulfill our customers needs, we give good service. When we anticipate their needs, we give great service. We hear a caller's children playing in the background and ask if they will be traveling with them and suggest a room with a pull-out couch and describe our kids services. We store plastic bags at our desk for when customers come in with wet umbrellas. The things that we do can be big or small; the effect is generally the same. By anticipating needs, we make things easier for our customers and show we genuinely care for them. This is at the heart of wowing them with our service.

So play prognosticator this week and challenge yourself to anticipate 10 or more things each day and swiftly take action to address them. Ten seems like a high number, but once you are in the habit of thinking proactively, you'll find ideas popping up all over.

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