Sunday, January 12, 2014

Raving Fans for Freeeeeee

"Raving fans are created by companies whose service far exceeds that of the competition and even exceeds customer expectations," describes Ken Blanchard in his book Raving Fans. The best raving fan experiences are executed so casually that they seem to be directed subconsciously.  They are just so natural.  I have an amazing "raving fan" story to share with you about the service I received this week while traveling for business.

A coworker and I were asked to travel and it just so happened to be the week of the "snowstorm of the century".  We waited out through the worst of it then made our break when we had word that most major roads were cleared (funny what was called "clear"). Taking separate vehicles we convoyed through snow, slush, and ice to our destination.  I was in the lead car and she followed carefully, both of us with a deliberate eye on the road and iron grip on the wheel.  Stopping for anything was not a consideration as the off ramps looked more like ski hills.

I can't imagine what we looked like when we collapsed on the
chairs in the lobby of the hotel.  Exhausted, mentally drained, and starving we sat there in exasperated silence.  A hotel employee appeared from the dining room and asked if we would be dining in this evening.  Relief!  The last thing either one of us wanted to do was drive anywhere. She then went on to say, "you don't even need to move.  We will bring a dining table to you right here in front of the fireplace". In seconds a bistro table appeared in front of us.  Our entire demeanor changed.  The 5 hours of horror was erased from our minds with this simple delightful act of amazing customer service.

What is even more amazing is that the entire 4 day stay was like this.  Every touch point built our fandom. The front desk clerk was extremely delightful, the breakfast staff remembered our favorites from day to day, and when I tried to purchase a bottle of water to take into the fitness center I was instead offered a complimentary bottle.  Small delightful surprises happened continuously. 

There are places where you expect amazing service.  Last spring break I stayed at a Ritz Carlton whose service is legendary.  They had nothing on this Hilton Garden Inn.  Customer service at this hotel is just what they do.  I had not seen the receptionist that greeted us since check in and yet when I checked out 4 days later she remembered my name and room number without being prompted.  As I walked to the front doors for the last time she called out "now you have a safe return home Ms. Laura."  My response, "I can't wait to return", and I meant it.

Now I'd like to emphasize something here:  you can creating raving fans without adding cost.

When you review my experience it is clear.  The cost breakdown is as follows:

Customer Experience                    Cost
friendly service                                  $0
fireside dinner                                   $0
instant breakfast                              $0
free water                                        $0.10



There are hundreds of hotels I could select from the next time I stay in the Chicago area, but only one will get my consideration.  What can you do to create raving fans?



 

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