Customer service is the way to distinguish your organization from your competitors. Find ways to surprise and delight your customers. “It is the service we are not obliged to give that people value most.” – James C. Penny.
I recently had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. My friend and I enjoyed our salads and shortly after we were done, our pizzas arrived. We had been enjoying a day of shopping and girl talk and had not noticed time passing. Imagine our pleasant surprise when our server approached our table and informed us that she had spoken to her manager about what she felt was too long of a wait for our pizzas to arrive at our table. The manager and server both felt that we should have been served sooner and offered us either a free dessert or 20% off of our bill. Needless to say, we were impressed with the fact that the service had been great to begin with, but to have her looking out for us and feel that they could have done even better made us feel like valued customers.
Another example –
Last weekend I was at a speaker’s conference in Los Angeles and had ordered a “Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte” at the Starbucks located in the hotel lobby. The manager joked with me about the fun being gone from the drink and happily made it for me. She did notice when it was ready that it wasn’t quite hot enough, so she had the barista make me another one right away. I thanked her for looking out for me and took my drink. As I was walking through the lobby, another guest was rushing past me and knocked the latte right out of my hands before I had even taken my first sip! She was in such a hurry that she didn’t even know that the drink had gone flying all over the floor. After the hotel staff had empathetically cleaned up the mess, I headed back to the Starbucks to purchase yet another coffee. The manager jokingly asked if I had already finished my drink. I explained to her what had happened and that I was back to purchase another one. She was not behind the bar at that time and I did not notice her actions, so imagine my pleasant surprise when she quickly handed me another drink exactly the same as the first one at no charge. I thanked her profusely and left a tip in the box.
The point to these stories is that the end result was clearly not expected. Truth be told, I did secretly hope to receive another latte from Starbucks, but it was not expected in the least. When providers present their customers with unexpected service, such as a replacement or discount for something they perceive as not serving the customer well, it leaves a lasting positive impression. That is the way the companies raise customer satisfaction levels and retention.