Everything I Learned About Customer Experience – I Learned at the Carnival

Today’s Thought: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’m often asked how my career progressed over the past 3 decades, and I always start with where it all began…the EK Fernandez Carnival in Hawaii. Really. With Ferris Wheels, Tilt a Whirls, games, teddy bears and Cotton Candy. The truth is […]

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Today’s Thought: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I’m often asked how my career progressed over the past 3 decades, and I always start with where it all began…the EK Fernandez Carnival in Hawaii. Really. With Ferris Wheels, Tilt a Whirls, games, teddy bears and Cotton Candy.

The truth is – everything I learned about business, I learned under the big top tent.

My understanding of the power of a strong ‘customer experience’ was cemented in a single interaction I had with my first “boss” Linda — who happened to be the owner of the business, was the mother of one of my best friends in high school, and my first mentor at age 16.

I could see — what I wanted to be. I knew in some way business would be my path. I just didn’t know how my journey would unfold.

After college I went back to work for the family in Maui – It was opening day of a 15k foot arcade and I was the GM [at 22]. The ceiling had thousands of light bulbs to create the feeling of being under a big top tent at a carnival. Linda walked in an hour before the public was going to see it for the first time. She did her normal walk through to make sure everything was ‘just right.’ Before we opened the doors, she walked over to me, and said it all looked great except one thing…..my heart dropped, what could it be? She pointed up, and I let my eyes follow her hand as she walked away…what was it?

𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐛 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭. 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐳𝐞𝐧𝐬, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐬, 𝐎𝐍𝐄.

From that day forward, I understood that if we didn’t care about what the store looked like, if we weren’t 100% focused on the customer and entertaining families and children alike, why would they come back? It is a lesson I still apply today when talking about the power of CX. It is all the little things that add up to a great experience.

What was your first memory of something you still think of today?

Thank you Truist for asking me to be on the cover of your Leadership Institute Magazine, I was honored to share my story.

If you’d like to read the entire interview, please do here.

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