Do your customers and prospects think your customer service is blah or Black Tie? Let me explain these two notions with two real-life scenarios I just experienced—both on the same day!
The “just good enough” or Blah experience
Recently, my wife and I spent a weekend away and stayed at a so-called resort during their off-season. Our experience started with challenges with check-in and the location of our room (but that is another story). The main challenge came at the end of the first day after the office was closed. At about 6 p.m. I called what I thought was the office to let them know that the hair dryer wasn’t working. The person on the phone was polite and told me that all the maintenance people were gone for the evening, but they would be back around 8 or 9 a.m. on Saturday and that we would be the first stop in the morning to get a new one. This was good because my wife needed it to finish getting ready in the morning.
Saturday morning arrived, and at 9:15, there was still no hair dryer. I called back and was told by another person that the maintenance staff arrived at 9 a.m. and that they were in a meeting. She did see my request, the staff knew about it, and they would come by to take a look. But they never did, nor did we ever receive a call or note from them. They just forgot us. To top it off, since it was the off-season, the resort was booked at maybe 50% capacity, if that. So they certainly had the time to do it, but I guess they had other more important things to do on the property. We could have given them a list, as we then started noticing some of the other little things that could make a major difference in the Customer Experience—like how the kitchen appliances were about 15-years-old (and showed it), how the carpet really needed cleaning, and how the patio needed work.
Was it still a nice weekend? Yes. Actually, I have a better word to describe it- FINE. Trust me, this is not the word to use.
Could the stay at the resort be better? Absolutely. Will we go back there? Probably not. Why? It came down to the little details, which I think make a big impact, especially when there are so many accommodation options in this particular community.
The Black Tie Experience!
Contrast this experience with another one that same weekend. We went to eat at a local place that frankly I was a little concerned about because I couldn’t find them anywhere on Yelp and Google reviews. But we decided to go anyway, and we are so glad we did! We asked to be seated in front of the one TV that carried the college football game we wanted to watch. They didn’t have to do this because the section was full, but they wanted us to be able to watch the game. Then Jillian stopped by with a big, enthusiastic smile, and rather than greeting us in the usual restaurant way, said, “Knock, Knock. My name is Jillian, and I am so happy you are joining us tonight!
When we mentioned we were visiting this popular tourist town, she proceeded to explain the different items on the menu in detail so that we knew exactly what we would be looking at. She said, “I don’t want you to be disappointed in our food because you didn’t know enough about our menu. That is my job!” As I thanked her, she said the two words that while they may not seem like a big deal, they are to me: “My pleasure.”
The rest of the meal and the entire restaurant experience were wonderful. They had a large selection of beers on tap, and since I am not an expert, I didn’t know which one to order. She asked me a question that wowed me and showed me that she cared about my experience: “What type of beer is in your refrigerator right now, or maybe in the last month?” What a great question because as soon as I answered that, she knew which category for me to look at. And she said, “I don’t want you to make the wrong selection, so let me know if you would like to sample it first.” I did, and while it was good, I decided to go with another choice— and it was perfect.
The food we chose, based on her recommendation, was excellent. Even better was the teamwork that the staff showed. Two other wait staff dropped off food to our table, not because our server couldn’t do it, but she was busy with other tables, and they made sure that we were being taken care of.
The entire experience for us was “Black Tie” service. Going above and beyond, not because they had to but because they wanted to.
I believe Black Tie is . . .
-Exceeding expectations by doing the little things to reinforce the bigger thing, namely your product or service.
-Becoming that person who wants to make a difference for their company, one customer at a time.
-Asking those questions and then truly listening to what the customer said, not just selling what you wanted them to buy.
-Following through on your product or service, because at the end of the experience, I am buying from you, not your company.
But to me, it was more than just the service. Could you tell the difference in the culture of both of these companies? Before you can deliver the Black Tie Experience, your company needs to create the mindset, the culture, and the atmosphere. And you need to not only show and tell your employees about it but also involve them in it.
Do you want your company to be known for blah or Black Tie? We can help you with Black Tie, and keep you far away from blah.
Bob Pacanovsky is a Keynote Speaker and Tra