A Small Effort is all it Takes to Deliver Jaw Dropping Customer Service

Marilyn Suttle

Recently, my husband, Cliff, was the motivational keynote speaker for a large association. He drove two hours to the event with a car full of books, handouts and props for his speech. While unpacking, he could have kicked himself. He forgot his most important prop—a tall, lidded garbage can.

What happened as a result of his misstep led to a great customer service success story. In fact, Cliff could hardly wait to tell me about the fantastic customer service and the customer experience he had at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Funny how small customer service acts can cause a wildfire of enthusiasm.

Customer Service and a Customer Experience You Wouldn’t Trash

Realizing that it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find an unused trash can at the casino, Cliff was relaxed. When he arrived, he checked in with the association chair, who then asked casino staff member Sherry Putnam for help. She located a tall trash can and brought it on stage for him. Unfortunately, the can was half full of returnable soda cans.

During Cliff’s speech he would be dropping items into the can, and he wanted to keep them clean. As he stood there looking inside the can, Sherry could see that something wasn’t quite right. When she realized what it was, she didn’t hesitate to empty the can and put in a clean liner.

Cliff was most appreciative and proceeded to manage the details for his audio-visual set up. There was still one small thing that bothered him, though he didn’t want to say anything about it. The top of the garbage can was sticky to the touch—opening and closing the lid during his speech would not be pleasant. He chalked it up as a small price to pay for forgetting his prop.

Just before his presentation was to begin, Sherry approached Cliff with good news. "I noticed that the top of the garbage lid was dirty, so I removed it and had it cleaned for you," she said. Sure enough, the garbage lid was glistening clean. "I couldn’t believe she went to the trouble to detach the lid and have it cleaned," Cliff said, "and I didn’t even ask her to do that!"

You can be certain that nowhere in Sherry’s training or job description did she receive instructions that read, "Should a vendor brought in by a customer request a garbage can—here’s what you do." How many employees would have considered it "over-the-top" or "not my job" to help Cliff out in a similar situation?

Customer Service Excellence in the Airline Industry

Sherry’s stand-out attitude and customer service reminded me of the kind of service offered by Singapore Airlines, a world-class leader in customer service.

Even during challenging economic times, Singapore Airlines charges more than other airlines and consistently sells out flights. Why? Because they do what Sherry does—they anticipate their customers’ preferences.

For example, during a 20-hour direct flight, passengers are served several meals. Their flight attendants are trained to notice what type of wine their customer selects and which of the multiple varieties of bread they choose out of their bread baskets.

Anticipating Customer Preferences for Excellent Customer Service

When a passenger selects garlic bread for lunch, her server is sure to have extra garlic bread in the basket during the next meal. They make the extra effort to consistently anticipate passenger preferences. At the request of a passenger, flight attendants may offer impromptu wine tasting. Singapore’s flyers can also choose from many forms of high tech, leading-edge entertainment options. All customers, even those in economy seats, are wowed by the friendly attentive staff.

Is it a fluke to receive such a jaw-dropping customer experience? Is it that there are certain people who are naturally gifted at customer service and customer experience and when you are lucky enough to be served by them, your customer experience is great? Or is this type of customer service something that can become part of your company culture?

Nothing Should Be Arbitrary About Customer Service and Customer Experience

At Singapore Airlines, nothing is arbitrary about customer service. While six weeks of training is the airline industry standard, they spend five months training their flight attendants. Investing time on the subtleties and nuances that go into creating jaw-dropping customer service results in consistently happy customers, sold out flights, and the highest ticket prices in the airline industry. These are the happy side effects that occur when customer service is a non-negotiable part of the company culture.

Do your customers brim over with excitement over the customer service and customer experience they receive? If cleaning a garbage can lid at the casino can create the kind of enthusiasm my husband displayed, just imagine the buzz that can come about with little added attention toward your customers.

First published on Call Center IQ.