Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary
October is Customer Service Month (who makes these things up?) so I thought I’d share an episode of good customer service. After all fair is fair, as I am not shy commenting on times I experience poor service.
Back in June, I was attending a week-long workshop that was being held at the Dallas Hilton at Lincoln Centre. I remember that trip because 1) the workshop was pretty good, and 2) the customer service at the Hilton was outstanding. From even before my check-in through my departure I could find no errors.
My first instance came as I was walking from the parking garage toward the front entrance. From a distance, I noticed that the doorman was taking the opportunity to tidy up the area sweeping away some trash. However, once he saw me approaching, still about 100 feet away, he stopped what he was doing and met me half-way. After guiding me inside, he ensured that I knew where the front desk was.
A) He didn’t see a lull as time to waste, but as time to make the hotel a better place for its guests,
B) He saw that helping a customer was more important than what he was already doing,
C) He did not assume that I knew where I needed to go, he assured it.
Would I have thought anything wrong if I was not greeted until I reached the door? No. Could I have found the front desk by looking around a bit until I saw the direction signage? Yep. However that would have made my experience ordinary. Good, but ordinary.
Another vignette was toward the end of my stay. There was a light lunch so that we wouldn’t be hungry on our travels from the workshop. It consisted of picnic-type food like sandwiches, coleslaw, and potato salad. One of the ladies I was sitting with said, “Hey, with food like this, we should have chips!” With that she summoned the waiter who was near and asked for some chips. Note that it wasn’t that they had run out of chips, but that the catered meal did include any.
I expected to hear, “I’m sorry, but chips are not part of the meal this afternoon.” That would have been reasonable and ordinary. Instead what I heard was, “I will find.” Sure enough, after about five minutes, a bowl of very large and tasty potato chips was brought to our table.
Hilton had empowered this employee to provide excellent service. His concern was not what the menu featured; his concern was what the guest wanted. Did it cost the hotel extra? Sure. But for a couple dollars worth of chips they helped their customer, the workshop sponsor, give a better experience to their guests.
So I wonder, are your front-line employees acting like the doorman in my first example? Do they keep looking for ways to improve the first impression that your business generates? Like my second example, do you empower your employees to make things better than required, even if it costs you a little money?
A doorman and a waiter: They were not management. I’m guessing they earned but a fraction of the income of most of the guests they served. But they and others during my stay made a big difference, turning the ordinary into extraordinary. And they did it by doing the little things right.
Now an announcement: Not only is it Customer Service Month, the week of October 5 is Financial Planning Week. In celebration of it, I’ll be available on that Monday to answer your financial planning questions…Free. Trust me; it’s the only day of the year you’ll get me for that price. To find out the details go to www.PersonalMoneyPlanning.com.