Outrageous Customer Service

Have you ever had one of those customer service experiences that just make you say “Wow?” You know what I’m talking about. The ones you can’t wait to tell the whole world about. Good or bad, customer service experiences are memorable moments. They shape your opinions and forever impact a company’s brand.

In my presentation, “Whole Brand Thinking,” I explore several examples of how everyday activities impact your brand. From the coffee served to the way your office phone is answered, a sloppy approach to seemingly minor details can do great harm to an otherwise spotless reputation. Managed well, they can impress clients, creating a “wow” moment.

Ritz-Carlton Hotels
In the hospitality industry, it’s an accepted fact that Ritz-Carlton is the hands-down leader when it comes to outstanding customer service. In fact, companies in other industries attempt to emulate the Ritz-Carlton model.

What’s their secret? Their employees and leadership are very much aligned. The Ritz-Carlton gold standards of service are reinforced by a daily line-up that occurs at the beginning of every shift, for every team, at every Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world. Employees everywhere are encouraged to ‘break away’ to serve customers. Each employee has a card containing the twenty ‘basics’ and the mantra, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” For example, using guest names and saying ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ rather than ‘hi’ supports the Ritz-Carleton brand image.

Ultimate Economic Developer Site Visit
A friend of mine is a site selection consultant. This is a person who is contracted by companies to find a new home for a company headquarters of expansion. On assignment for a company seeking a location for a new distribution center, he arranged three site visits for this client. Along with the company President and two other company representatives, they all hit the road to visit the three cities. The company had been through the process before and their pattern was to expand their sales area, build a distribution center and create 500 to 600 good paying jobs.

At city number one, the group was met at the economic development office where they were offered cookies and institutional coffee before loading into minivans for a tour of the city and a visit to the industrial park. Nothing new. Nothing outstanding.

The next day, when they arrived at city number two, their experience was much different. At the airport, they were greeted by the economic developer and Mayor who escorted the group to two stretch limousines. In the limos, they were offered freshly brewed premium coffee while being driven to the site being proposed for their new building.

At the location, the executives were greeted by a group of community leaders who were gathered under a tent where a catered lunch was served. Among the group were representatives of the city and county, promising a streamlined process, and utility companies who promised plenty of capacity. Also present was a local construction contractor, who had staked out the footprint of their most recent building, showing how the building would sit on the property. Local officials also presented a plan for a job fair, showing how they would assist with the process of hiring qualified employees.

Needless to say, company execs were blown away. So much so that they cancelled their visit to city number three and stayed another day to begin the process of making city number two the site of their next distribution center. This had clearly been a “Wow” moment for them.

Details matter
Whether it’s a big event such as a major site visit or other details such as a new brochure, stationery or web site, it’s important to manage each touch point wisely. With so much at risk, why would you risk so much by cutting corners on details that could put you at a serious disadvantage?

As a good friend and client once said to me, “Never give them a reason to diminish you.”

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