Last week I mentioned that during my vacation the hotel staff asked how they could make our stay more pleasurable. It got me thinking about extraordinary service and how rare it is today. Have you ever experienced extraordinary service? More importantly, do you provide extraordinary service?
I can think of several examples when someone in my family received extraordinary service. One that always comes to mind is my husband’s experience with Nordstrom. Service is legendary at Nordstrom, and I know a quilt shop owner who took a part-time job at Nordstrom to learn its service training. Back to my story: My husband purchased a suit at Nordstrom and on the first wearing, he caught the sleeve on the rear windshield wiper of the SUV, and it tore. We called the store to see if they could get another jacket or fabric so their tailor could replace the sleeve, anything to avoid a loss. It was irreparable. What happened next falls into the extraordinary category. My husband’s salesman called and offered my husband any suit in the store as a replacement, gratis. Wow, that’s extraordinary.
For me, when I stop at the local quilt shop, ordinary would be greeting me and asking if I need help. Moving toward extraordinary might be steering me toward the new items. It would be telling me what fabric has just arrived or the experiences of customers with some of the newer notions. It would be asking me to share my latest project. It might be showing me photos of samples other customers made to inspire me or introducing me to other customers or inviting me to the local sit and stitch at your shop. Really extraordinary might be giving me a fat quarter folded into a flower because it was my birthday, or I just moved into town, or I was having a really bad day.
I think what takes ordinary service to extraordinary is that it establishes a personal relationship between the parties. It’s an experience for the receiver, and, as the receiver, it’s one you want to share with anyone who will listen. And, it’s one that reaps rewards for the giver way beyond the service provided. I also believe this extraordinary attitude also starts at the top, and the business owner needs to look for ways to encourage her employees to provide extraordinary service. I’m not saying do this for everyone or all the time. It’s hard enough to be excellent every day, all day. Try looking for for simple ways that you can express support, affection and a desire to serve your customers in an extraordinary way. Here are some suggestions:
1. Have some fat quarters set aside for gifting on a random basis.
2. Have a quarterly luncheon and invite some of your best customers. And, ask them to bring a friend.
3. Today we rarely send or receive much handwritten mail. Once a week, send a handwritten note to one of your customers thanking them for their business.
4. Call your customer on her birthday.
5. Ask one of your customers to stop back in the office, share a cup of coffee and treat, and get to know him or her.
Once you start to look for ways to provide extraordinary service, you’ll find the ideas are endless. These “extraordinary extras” will set you apart, strengthen your relationships and remind your customers that they aren’t simply the source of your business income.
Please share some examples of extraordinary service you provide.
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