Today, I want to share some stories related to customer service and how we can make our businesses better by focusing on taking care of our customers.
Sure, sales and marketing are important — but if you want to form concrete relationships, create repeat customers that spread the word about your products and services, and develop strong connections for years to come, then you’ll have to put in the time and effort to send that connection back the other way.
This first story is one I heard over 20 years ago, and I wish I remembered who told it to me. If you’ve heard it before and you know where it comes from, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment at the bottom of this blog so I can give credit where credit is due.
Anyway, this story is about a gentleman who frequently traveled for work, always staying in big, beautiful hotels where he would host seminars. In one particular city, he came across a hotel with a fancy, five-star restaurant that claimed to have an extra special dish.
He learned that people would come from miles away to get a taste of their World Famous Lobster Bisque, and he decided he absolutely had to try some while he was in town.
An hour before his seminar, he decided to go down to the restaurant to get a taste. It was a particularly busy lunch, and he was under a bit of a time crunch, so he decided to take it to go.
“I’m so sorry, sir,” the hostess said. “We’re so busy right now, so unfortunately, unless you’re sitting down having the full menu, we won’t be able to serve you the lobster bisque.”
“Wait, but I’m a guest here in this restaurant,” he explained. “I’m hosting a seminar and will be bringing hundreds of people in, many of whom are staying at this hotel. Is there anything you can do?”
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “It’s just our policy.”
“Well, maybe I need to talk to someone in charge. Can you bring a manager out?”
The hostess brought the manager out, the man explained his situation, and the manager said, “I’m so sorry, sir. Let me get you that bowl of lobster bisque.”
The man sat down, enjoyed his World Famous Lobster Bisque, and headed off to his seminar.
Meanwhile, across the street, a family walks into a mom-and-pop-style restaurant. It wasn’t a particularly special establishment — and definitely wasn’t as fancy or highly reviewed as the hotel restaurant — but it was perfect for the casual Sunday dinner this family was looking for.
So the family walks in, sits down, and their server arrives at their table. She takes their orders, and the little girl says, “I’d like some ice cream, please!”
“You know, we actually don’t have any ice cream on the menu, kiddo,” she says, watching the child’s face crumble with the weight of the news. “But if you just wait here a little bit, I’ll figure it out, and I’ll make you some.”
So she travels to the nearby corner store, grabs a carton of ice cream, returns to the restaurant, scoops it into a bowl, and delivers it to the smiling, excited little girl.
So… which restaurant would you rather eat at? The one that gives you the runaround for providing a simple request, or the one that goes out of their way to make sure their customer is taken care of?
Obviously, in the business world, we can’t cater to every customer request. We have policies in place for a reason: to protect ourselves and our workers. But we should focus on building policies that strike a balance between protecting the business and ensuring the customer is able to receive what they need, or else we risk driving them away.
You see, anybody who comes in and connects with your business will have something called a moment of truth in which there’s something they expect to happen.
For example, in my business, our first class starts at 5:00 AM. Every morning, we’re supposed to open the doors at 4:30 AM so all the early birds can get settled before their workout. If they get up, drive to the gym, walk up to the door at 4:35, and see that the lights are off, nobody’s there, and the door is locked, that moment of truth turns into a moment of misery.
It’s miserable for them because we haven’t met their expectations or lived up to our promises. When people walk through our doors, they’re asking, “Does anybody know I’m here? Does anybody know my name? Does anybody care about me?”
When you can answer those questions, when you can enact policies that make people feel welcome and like you care for them, you’ll find that closing sales, getting new clients, and all that great stuff will come easier and easier. Reputation is one of the hardest things to build, but it’s all too easy to lose.
Let’s take a look at Disney World, for example. Disney is commonly known as one of the happiest places on Earth that we look to as a model for customer service.
Once upon a time, they conducted a survey in which they asked several visitors to rate different experiences within the park on a scale of one to 10.
People didn’t like standing for hours in the heat while waiting in line and paying almost $20 for a pretzel, so they rated those experiences a 2 or 3. But the smile on their child’s face when Mickey Mouse gave them a hug and signed their autograph book? Ten out of 10. Or when they watched the fireworks at the end of the night, reflecting on all the day’s joys? Unparalleled.
And at the end of that day, once they were asked to weigh all their experiences and come up with an overall rating, what they found was that most people rated their day as a nine out of 10.
This all goes to show that people remember the highlights more than they remember the lowlights. So, did you make them laugh? Did you make them cry? Were you reasonably accommodating to their requests? Are people leaving your business on a positive note?
How many times have you read a review in which the customer complains about the food or the wait times but still gives a four-star rating because the managers comped their food or went around a policy? It happens all the time.
Problems will always arise, but good customer service will help us mitigate the harm they bring. Focus on leaving people with a smile on their face, and you’ll find they’re always excited to return.
Just like all your happy customers, I hope you come back to Tuesday with Terry for more.
As always, thanks for reading my blog. Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment with your thoughts.