I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong and Macau and noted that the service levels were bar none the best I have ever experienced worldwide. Thinking about what I experienced it dawned on me that every extraordinary service level cost the provider nothing extra to deliver. The “extras” were simply based on the attitude of the employee and how they did their work. With that in mind let’s look at those “extras” and see how you can apply them to your business:
- Welcome Gift. My driver provided 2 bottles of water in the car for our 45 minute ride to the hotel. OK – so this one costs the car service a couple bucks. I can tell you that I would have gladly paid double for the drink as I was parched from the 15 hour flight! The point is not what it costs but rather that they anticipated I would be thirsty and the water would help to make me more comfortable on the ride. Who knows…it could have even been added to the bill and I wouldn’t have noticed or cared! Is there an unexpected way you can welcome your guests into your office that would help them to feel more comfortable? Do the bowl of candies and industry magazines you have in the waiting area really cut it?
- Proactive Check in. At 2 of the hotels I was booked on the concierge level, as I have been in many other countries. The difference in both Hong Kong and Macau was that a representative from the concierge desk was waiting for me at the entrance of the hotel, outside on the curb. She knew our names. When I arrived, the bellman whisked my bags away and I was escorted upstairs to my room for check in. No waiting in line. No hunting down someone to help. Once the room check was completed my representative called down to the bell desk to confirm my room number and the bags were delivered.
The difference between this experience and the service I have received in other hotels is simple. In China they were serving me proactively not reactively. The concierge and the bellman were proactively waiting for me. Proactively prepared with my file, and proactively briefed with my arrival information (the driver had called in to let the hotel know what time to expect us).
Besides being proactive this level of service is a great example of a team working together. Additional employees are not required. Simply adjust HOW your team members do their job and HOW they communicate with each other. Finally, the best service levels require an attitude adjustment from “the customer is bothering me” to “what do I need to do to make this customer as comfortable as possible?”
- A Familiar Voice. Each time I called down to the front desk I was addressed by name. Likely your organization has a phone system with call display too. Is everyone in your organization using it? Most companies I work with today have the technology to recognize phone numbers by individual caller or by the corporation. But, they chose NOT to use this functionality to their advantage. When a client is recognized by name it enhances the rapport they have with your company. This leads to increased trust, loyalty and most critically – referrals! Are your customers greeted by name when they call or visit? Are they treated like friends or strangers? Is your team using the systems you have invested in?
Earlier this week while on site with a sales team in Ottawa it was revealed that the company had invested over $250,000 in a new client management system. Only 1 out of 20 sellers on the team were using it. Not surprisingly she was a rising star in the organization. Far too often companies invest in systems and technology that they ultimately claim were a “waste of money”. Not so. The systems and the technology were not a waste of money. The waste is that they team was never required to implement.
- Show Me Don’t Tell Me. I am often in a situation where I have to ask for directions! The normal procedure is for someone to tell me how to get there. Considering I can’t tell left from right in the best of times this inevitably gets me lost – and frustrated. My experience in China was revolutionary. Every time I asked anyone (hotel staff, spa staff, mall staff, retailer, janitor, waiter…) for directions they TOOK me to the desired location. In the hotels, they even escorted me to the elevator and pressed the buttons! As a result I was never lost, and I don’t even speak the language. Again, the lesson here is that this “let me show you” attitude enhances trust rapport and will lead to more business.
The point of this post is this: Most companies complain that they have to cut back on service because they “can’t afford” to be best in class. What I experienced in China is that great service has nothing to do with how much you spend. Great service t has everything to do with the attitude of your team, their willingness to work together to make the customer happy, and a change of workflow from reaction based service to proactively serving the customer and anticipating their needs. The key is this: I know everyone is capable of making these changes functionally and financially. All you have to do is want to.
Dedicated to making this your best year yet!