At the helm: Killing it with kindness

By David Gee

Excellent customer service is your best marketing tactic. A best-selling author and keynote speaker made that statement, and I am in total agreement. More on that in a minute.

It was my birthday recently, and my wife and I decided to celebrate with a road trip, using points to stay at a couple of different Marriott properties.

First up was a Westin in a city we had never been to. We were feeling a bit road weary when we walked into the reception area after battling an interminable traffic jam.

Immediately though we were put at ease by the familiarity of the Westin, and even the soothing smell. The affable young man at the front desk greeted us enthusiastically, and when he looked up our reservation, upgraded us to the club level.

Matthew then asked us what brought us there, we said it was my birthday, and we were just road tripping to some places we had never been before. Next, he inquired about dinner reservations, and when we said we didn’t have any, he said “please allow me.”

He called what we found out later was a small, intimate, but extremely popular restaurant, introduced himself, said he was making birthday dinner reservations for first-time visitors, and really made a pitch for our table for two. It worked, and we had a fantastic meal at an 1800’s-era house that had been converted to a gourmet restaurant in a part of town we would have never found on our own.

Next, Matthew said, “follow me.” Now bear in mind we still had our little bit of luggage and still hadn’t been officially checked in. We walked over to the lobby bar, Matthew told the bartender, “It’s this gentleman’s birthday and I would like to buy him a beer or a shot.” Somewhat startled and surprised, I replied I wasn’t much of a drinker, but I did enjoy a slightly sweet green tea shot. Mostly what we enjoyed though was the outstanding kindness and warmth this Westin front desk employee showed us.

At the ICAST industry breakfast I recently attended the keynote speaker Jay Baer talked about how to turn exceptional customer service into a huge marketing advantage for any business.

“We don’t talk about good, we expect good,” stated Baer in his presentation. “What people talk about are experiences that differ from their existing expectations. If you want people to talk about your business – and you do – do something remarkable that they will notice and talk about.”

So Matthew at the Westin front desk, your service was remarkable, we noticed, and I’m talking about it. Try being remarkable and give your customers something to talk about.

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