John, I run a visitor center in Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada. We're pretty hard to find on anyone's Atlas. We greet people from all over the world who want to experience the spectacular rapids of the Slave River or local Aboriginal culture and history. Countless times we've had opportunities to use QBQ! in working with visitors. Although QBQ! is presented as personal accountability content, it has very direct application in our customer service model as we help each visitor have a safe, enjoyable trip to our park and community. Here's how we're applying it:
Rather than ask: "Why do many visitors come unprepared?" We ask The Question Behind the Question (QBQ):"What can I do to help this customer have a safe and memorable experience?"
Often visitors arrive here not ready for the trip they had imagined. It might be the lack of a plan, few skills, poor equipment, or little knowledge. Believe it or not we have had visitors arrive during sub zero temps wanting to camp, but without the right gear. Some visitors "plan" to go hiking and boating in a park the size of Switzerland without a map, sufficient food, drinking water, and equipment. We will meet with a visitor, assess their level of preparedness, and then recommend activities that will allow them to achieve their goals without taking too great a risk. We spend time ensuring they will have a positive and memorable experience. The majority of those who come not ready, leave very pleased.
Rather than ask: "Why should I talk about things to do outside our park?" We ask the QBQ: "How can I add to this visitor's experience by directing them to additional activities in our local area?"
To answer this QBQ, we guide visitors to discover the Catholic Mission site and Grotto, the Northern Life Museum, the golf courses around the community, the trails to the rapids, and even a local Aboriginal carver. We find them opportunities to "flight-see" our stunning geography with local airlines. These are just a few of the "non-park" products that add to a visitors trip.
Rather than ask: "Why would I care if their car is not working properly or that someone in their party is ill?" We ask the QBQ: "What can I do to help them locate services they need to reduce their stress and get back to enjoying their holiday?"
An elderly French couple arrived in a rental RV having electrical problems. "Not my problem!" some might say, but we called a local garage and asked that they be given priority treatment as a visitor to our community. The garage complied but found a secondary problem with the vehicle. None of the mechanics spoke French and the couple spoke no English so they could not understand each other. I do speak some French so I rushed over to translate and in minutes we solved the problem. The visitors were ecstatic, hugging both the mechanic and myself. They went on their way singing the praises of Fort Smith and the park!
In short, this is what the QBQ! does:
Instead of being frustrated by unprepared, frustrated or angry visitors, we try to create a journey of discovery that leads to a pleasurable visitor experience. In meeting these people from all over the world, we often discover facts about them and their world and, in turn, share something about us and our world. This creates a bond which causes visitors to return to our center at the end of their visit-just before leaving our community-to thank the park staffer who helped them early in their stay.
John, we see application of QBQ! in almost all things we do even where we are ... barely on anyone's Atlas.
Visitor Services Manager
Ft Smith, NT, Canada
Hello, QuickNote readers! John here. To all those who love QBQ! service, might I suggest a vacation at Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada
And make sure you thank Mike and Team for living the QBQ!
John G. Miller
Author of QBQ! and Flipping the Switch
QBQ! QuickNotes may be forwarded by email to others or printed in their entirety with credit given for personal and group use. Copyright QBQ, Inc. 2007. All rights reserved.
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