I was repairing a door in my basement recently, and needed a rare type of nut and bolt combination. I went to a local family-owned hardware store, and tracked down an employee in one of the aisles.
I explained what I was looking for, and he spent the next 15 minutes with me, looking through several fastener drawers until we found the magic bolt. That only solved half the problem; we still needed a nut that would properly match up with the hinges. Another 10 minutes later, the problem was solved.
Total sale? $3.27 for approximately 25 minutes work.
The employee that solved my problem happened to be the owner of the store. At any point, it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to cut his losses on the time invested, and recommend that I go to a big-box store with a larger collection of fasteners, but he never did. He made it his mission to solve my problem. He had an "Owner's Attitude" toward customer service.
I was a customer that made a conscious decision to call on his business to solve my problem. To him, as the business owner, this was personal. People like me are the reason he started the business, and he inherently understands the value of taking care of the customer. Caring for customers is the lifeblood of his business; it's the lifeblood of his livelihood. He has to provide excellent service; he has no choice.
But what about those hourly employees that have no stake in the ownership? How do you give them the same sense of purpose? How do you get them to make it their mission to take ownership of, and solve the problem of each customer they encounter?
They may not own the business, but they absolutely must own the experience of each customer they encounter. That's what each employee needs to understand, internalize and act out with each and every customer they encounter. Because it's the sum total of those experiences that comprise the company brand and reputation.
Empower each employee to take on an "Owner's Attitude" whenever they engage with a customer. Both the customer and your brand will benefit.