How many times have you heard a phrase like “user experience” or “customer experience” in the past decade? Quite a lot I bet–unless you live under a rock. Great companies from Starbucks to Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom’s to Apple have taken the time to be intentional about their offerings, including those small touches that are so memorable.
Paul Spiegelman is a business owner whom I follow on Twitter. He wrote for Inc. magazine over the weekend about a splendid resort experience he had recently. There were aspects of the stay where expectations were met. However, he was blown away by the special touches. Paul believes that small businesses would do well to:
1. Notice What’s Important
When my wife and I got to the check-in counter, we were assigned to our hotel room. The staffer noticed we had small children and immediately brought out a wagon full of stuffed animals and encouraged our kids to pick one. This seemingly small gesture showed the resort was paying attention to what is most important to us.
2. Be a Guide
Rather than just hand me the room key, the clerk stepped around the front desk, told me he was going to tour my family and me around the property and then escort us to our room. And that’s just what he did. Not sure how the hotel managed that with multiple people checking in at the same time, but it was impressive. Do you do this when you give clients direction?
3. Start the Morning Right
I love it when hotels offer morning coffee. But it is usually in very small cups, and you inevitably wind up going back repeatedly for more. At the (place we stayed), the coffee cups looked about the same size as a Starbucks Venti. And the coffee was free until 11 a.m. What a great way to start the day.
4. Empower the Unexpected
At breakfast one morning, we celebrated my 12-year-old nephew’s birthday. During the meal, unbeknownst to me or my family, our waiter slipped out of the hotel, went to his car, and brought back a book that he gave to my nephew as a gift. Can you imagine? What small, unexpected touches do you enable your employees to offer without having to ask permission?
5. Don’t Just Pass By
As usual, I often saw hotel employees in the hallways or outside walkways. But in addition to the standard “good morning” and pleasant smile, the workers went out of their way to purposely step aside and create a path for me, whether I was with a group or walking alone. Instead of two people mindlessly passing each other, we had a moment to interact.
6. Communicate Price Clearly
When I checked out of the hotel and asked for a bellman to help my family and me with our bags, he also brought our bill to the room so we could check it then and raise any issues or questions. I have never experienced that kind of active transparency; it was great to have someone make sure the details of the bill fit the service we paid for.
7. Leave Them With a Lasting Memory
When our car was loaded up and my family and I were ready to go, not only did we find the staffers had left two bottles of water in the car cup holders but also two logo baseball caps on the dashboard for my wife and me. We drove away with smiles on our faces.
Many of these noticeable expressions of customer care do not cost anything extra to provide, but make a huge impression. How do you show that you care about what’s most important to your customers? Are you the type who tells a customer what needs doing, or do you take the time to show? How do you go “above and beyond?” Do your customers feel respected by your actions? Have someone in your organization (as senior a level as possible is ideal) take the time to explain billing and offer to answer questions for customers. What memories would you like to build in the minds of your customers?
If you will think through these questions and best practices, you will win the hearts of your customers.