Customer satisfaction and loyalty depends really on one thing… how memorable you make the experience. Businesses and staff that bring an extra nuance to the “business transaction” have a much higher likelihood of retaining customers than those who simply deliver the promised product.
Last week, I had the opportunity to go with my son on his 5th grade field trip to Chicago. The kids were excited because instead of riding on the regular school bus, we were making the trip on a chartered bus.
I’ve been on many of these field trips before and they were nice. The drivers were friendly and got us to our destinations on time and safely. Everything you’d really expect on a bus trip.
Now, this particular bus trip stands out. Yes, we got to our destinations on time and safely, same as the other trips. But, there was something, or some ONE rather, that made this trip memorable. Joe, the bus driver made our trip an experience, not just a ride.
When we boarded the bus at 6:00 am, he was very friendly and introduced himself to us. He explained a few of the safety rules that we needed to know and got the formalities of the trip out of the way. He then went on to say how happy he was to be able to drive us because he just loves the excitement that elementary school kids have when they are on their way to Chicago.
He then told us about a few things he had planned to make the trip fun. He made a special CD for the trip with songs referencing Chicago and those that he knew kids love to hear (yes, the ever famous YMCA was in the mix as well). Joe also made a point to have a few treats for the adults. Mixed into the CD were 5 theme songs to older television shows. Joe offered his special CD as a prize to the child who, with some help from an adult, could name all five theme songs.
When we made our one rest stop break there and back, Joe provided fruit, water, granola, and fruit snacks for anyone who wanted them. He had a few riddles for the kids with some little treats for the kids. He even provided a few brain teasers and small prizes for those winners.
Because we arrived in Chicago a bit earlier than expected, he took us to a few of the tourist spots and even took our picture against the famous Chicago skyline and emailed it to the teacher so we may all have a copy. As Chicago is one of his frequent destinations, he has picked up on a lot of Chicago trivia and pointed out many facts that we would not have knows otherwise.
At the end of the trip, Joe thanked all of the kids and adults for being on time for all of the pick ups and said that he truly enjoyed driving us that day. He congratulated all of the kids for completing elementary school and wished the best of success for all of them in middle school. He thanked the parents for all of our help during the trip and commented on our kids being so great.
Now, this may be all part of his standard “performance” for all trips he drives for, but that is the key – he knows he is performing. This trip was far more memorable and fun than any other field trip any of us had taken before (as a mom of 3, I’ve been on plenty). He made us feel welcome right away, he provided some entertainment through the music CD and the riddles and quizzes for the kids, he made sure we knew things about Chicago that he thought was interesting and thought we would enjoy knowing.
He could have simply picked us up at the school and dropped us off at our destination, but he went the extra mile to make it special. Now, how does that happen? Can anyone replicate this experience? Yes, and no. You must start with the right team by hiring personalities that have this service mentality.
You can be sure that anytime our elementary school has a field trip requiring a charter bus, we will be contacting that same bus company and requesting Joe simply because he made the experience memorable. You don’t have to have the title of customer service representative to earn customer satisfaction and loyalty. Just ask Joe, the bus driver. Now, I’m off to listen to my CD.