Think back to the last time you had an unexpected and incredible customer service. If you are like me, you may really have to think about it. Maybe the examples you could think of occurred so long ago that it took you awhile to remember them. That was the case for me.

The first experience I thought of happened when one of my girls was a baby – about twenty years ago. My wife and I were staying at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. When we checked into the hotel, we requested a crib and by the time we arrived in our room, the crib was already there. The Grand Hotel also brought us a welcome baby gift for our daughter – a stuffed animal and a bag of baby toiletries. The Grand Hotel anticipated that parents traveling to their unique location in a very uncommon way – by ferry, might not remember or bring all the necessities to care for their young ones. So, they prepared to delight parents who traveled there by welcoming them with something extra.

The second experience occurred while giving a keynote speech in Miami at The Biltmore Hotel. It was during the summer and peak mango season, and I absolutely love mangoes. As I was checking in, I asked the front desk staff where I could buy a few mangos to take home with me. Within a few minutes of arriving at my room there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door, an attendant greeted me with a small beautifully and elegantly displayed plate of sliced mango along with two other mangoes to take home with me. In South Florida, it is easy to find fresh mango as trees are everywhere! But to delight a guest by delivering an unexpected treat, that is an extraordinary and memorable service.

Award winning restaurant, Eleven Madison Park in New York has a staff position called Dream Weaver. The job of a Dream Weaver is to pay careful attention to patrons and provide them with way over the top experiences or gifts. Read Unreasonable Hospitality for some amazing examples of this in action.

One might assume that a surprise gift would be easy for a luxury hotel or upscale restaurant – the room and meal costs could easily absorb the extra expense to create something extraordinarily memorable. However, the wow service does not always involve incurring an expense – sometimes it is a differentiated experience.

The first time I had a vehicle serviced at Discount Tire, I was absolutely blown away. First, the staff are well dressed in branded red and black, the company colors. They stand out by their friendly and expedient service. They met you at your car to discuss your tire problem. As they service your vehicle, they maintain an impressively positive and energetic attitude. I even noticed a tire technician running around between tasks! They fix leaky tires for free even if you purchased your tires somewhere else.

Discount Tire founder Bruce Holle believed that exceptional service was the greatest form of advertising. He was also fond of saying, “you can’t tell people that you a good person, you have to show it.” Six Tires and No Plan is the story of Bruce Holle’s rise from extreme poverty and failure to success in business.

As you think about your business, consider these three examples and the unique value proposition that you can offer your customers.

  1. Like The Grand Hotel, anticipate a need and be prepared to exceed the expectations of your customers by offering them something unexpected.

  2. Encourage your team to pay attention to your customers and empower them to create a unique and lasting memory by surprising customers with something personalized like The Biltmore Hotel provided in delivering fresh mangos to my room. Personalized, exceptional service is fun for your team members and a delight for your customers.

  3. Be different. Think about the service your competition provides and stand out by doing something that nobody else does like Discount Tire. Greet them at the door, call them by name, and give them something extra that no one provides in your market.

If you think like these organizations, your customers will remember you for years and tell your story over and over.

It does not take much effort or creativity to stand out and by doing so, you will keep your customers coming back.


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