In April, I wrote about Impressions, a salon in Mequon that prided itself on making a positive impression on its guests. They focus on making their guests as comfortable as possible and providing them with a positive experience each time.
On a recent speaking tour in California and Texas for a client, I experienced more than one customer service surprise, proving customer service is not dead.
Earlier this February while on vacation in Arizona we experienced a number of these customer service surprises.
None of these surprise moments would have occurred if these employees were not empowered by their employer to seize the moment and correct a problem or enhance an experience. Let me provide you with a number of examples.
On our business trip to Los Angeles, we experienced a customer service surprise. It occurred at our favorite JW Marriott hotel in Santa Monica. This was our fifth visit to this hotel and we were recognized by a number of the members of the staff. Upon arrival, our bags were immediately taken to our room and the hanging bag was unpacked and our clothes were hung in the closet. We had lunch at the lobby bar prior to going to our room. When we finished lunch, we went upstairs to find that the hotel clerk had upgraded our room. We had a corner room with two magnificent views of the ocean and the Santa Monica pier. They also provided us with breakfast coupons for the four days of our stay.
This hotel chain empowers their employees to go the extra mile. Whatever request we had was met with a smile. We have stayed at many of their locations throughout the country and the level of service is consistently high. If it is wrong, they make it right with a smile and a thank you.
While in Arizona, we had a casual dinner with a business associate at a renowned restaurant in Scottsdale. It was a Sunday night and the restaurant was not crowded. After we placed our drink orders, it took awhile until we placed our appetizer and entrée order. The level of service continued to deteriorate and dinner arrived late. We were immediately approached by the maître'd' and he apologized for the delay and communicated that he would adjust the bill by 25 percent. He also provided us with a free dessert. These adjustments were not expected, but appreciated and restored my confidence in this establishment.
Finally, on our business trip to Tyler, Texas we rented our car from Hertz. When we arrived at the counter, the reservation clerk was wearing a badge that stated that he spoke Spanish.
I decided to engage him in his native language. Having only four years of Spanish in college, I was a little nervous, but determined to give it a try. Ten minutes later, I had a larger car with a navigation system and a "muchas gracious" from the clerk.
In fact, the clerk complimented me on my use of his language. He did not need to upgrade me, but he rewarded my courage to speak Spanish. The surprises did not end with the rental, it continued when we returned the car two days later. We arrived at the rental car return two hours prior to the boarding time, confident that we would be able to reach the terminal in time.
The customer service representative, who checked the car in, inquired about our boarding time. When we told him we had two hours, he informed us it might be tight. He motioned to another employee and directed him to immediately drive us to the terminal. While in the car the driver used his cell phone to verify our departure time and which terminal and gate were assigned to our flights.
Needless to say we arrived at the terminals on time and were able to even grab a bite prior to departure.
I provide these three examples of excellent customer service to demonstrate how by empowering your employees, they can surprise your customers and create a memorable experience, one that would leave a lasting impression. I have shared these experiences with friends and business associates, just as I share them with you. When making future dinner, hotel and rental car reservations these positive experiences will definitely influence my choices. I intend to drop a note to Hertz and the manager of the JW Marriott in Santa Monica thanking them for the courtesies that were extended to me and my wife. I already have thanked the manager at the restaurant.
As General Douglas Mc Arthur said, "I shall return."
I encourage you, my readers to share your positive customer service experiences with me so I can use them as examples in future articles. I also encourage you, my readers, to create these types of surprises for your own customers by empowering your employees. In the decision-making process, price is a consideration, but a high level of service and satisfaction will bring the customers back every time. Successful companies recognize and reward the loyalty of their customers. Do you?