The Essence of Customer Service

The Essence of Customer Service

By Tom Cohn, BKBG Executive Vice President

My daughter spent her second semester of her junior year attending the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Sydney has been on my bucket list for many years. We took my daughter's semester abroad as an opportunity to visit the great land down under. Sydney did not disappoint. The city, its sights, attractions and citizens are fantastic. During our trip, we experienced an extraordinary act of customer service. 

A half marathon was slated for the Sunday we were scheduled to depart Sydney. The roads around our hotel would be closed until 5 p.m. Our flight from Sydney on the day of the race was scheduled to depart at 10:20 a.m. 

The hotel recognized that the road closings would create major obstacles for departing guests. Around 5 p.m. Saturday, hotel staff slid a notice under our door, advising us of the road closures and the measures that the hotel had put in place to accommodate those departing the next day. The hotel recommended that hotel guests going to the airport leave a half hour earlier than usual and advised that the hotel bell staff would be available to take luggage to a location where cabs would be accessible. 

We checked out early Sunday morning, and sure enough, the bell staff was waiting at the hotel entrance to haul our luggage to an open road where we could catch a cab. What we did not realize was the distance involved. Simon, the bellman, loaded our luggage on a bell cart and started walking up a steep hill. He had to push the cart for approximately 15 minutes until we came to a random road where two other members of the bell team were waiting with a line of cabs ready to take the hotel guests to where they needed to go. 

During the walk, I asked Simon if he minded having to walk through Sydney, pushing a cart full of luggage up hills. Was this not a pain in the backside? With a smile, he responded, "No problem."

Imagine if you were staying at a hotel in any American city and there was a marathon that closed streets. How many guests would be SOL, and how many hotels would have put forth the effort of the one in Sydney? Your answer also points to incredible opportunity to surprise, delight and create raving fans. 

When situations arise that inconvenience your clients, those events present the same sort of opportunity the hotel in Sydney had. How and when you communicate with clients, the actions you take to minimize the inconveniences and how you execute are all points of service that provide unparalleled opportunities to exceed expectations. We live in a time when the use of the words please and thank you seems rare and refreshing. When you look through the lens of those you impact on a daily basis, you can create touch points where you can make a substantial difference in the quality of what you provide and positively differentiate your showroom from competitors. Where are your opportunities, and what are you going to do to capitalize on them?


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