Sunday, September 28, 2008

Customer Service Should Be A Celebrity Experience

At least that's what author Donna Cutting believes. As a customer, I have to agree. I'd like to experience that level of customer service. As a business woman, I also have to agree. It's exceptional customer service that can turn first-time customers into life-long clients.

As I read Donna's newest book, The Celebrity Experience, I thought of all the times that my own purchasing decisions had been made based solely on the type of service I received. I realized that there were times I had actually paid more for a product or service simply because I was so impressed by the service. I remembered all of the times I had received the "red carpet treatment" Donna describes - and all of the times I didn't. And I came to one conclusion - I go where I am treated well. Price can be important, brands and familiarity will sometimes win, but being treated like I'm the most important customer in the store - that will win me over every time. Now Donna has written a book that will teach business owners how to give their customers that same experience!

The concepts outlined in Donna's book are so true that I finished the book the first day I received it. It was worth a few hours of lost sleep to learn how to make my clients feel like stars. I can't wait to begin applying some of the principles she describes. I just know they will help my business grow. I guarantee if you read her book and follow her tips, you too will create a bunch of happy, loyal customers! In fact, I'm so impressed with it, I'm thinking of buying a few more copies - for those businesses I now longer patronize because of their customer service.

Just to give you an idea of the wealth of information in her book, I have Donna's permission to include a small excerpt for you. Once you've read it, you'll want to purchase Donna's book right away so you can read the rest of what she has to share.

Red-Carpet Customer Service and the Art of And Then Some

What is red-carpet customer service? It’s mastering the basics of service, delivering a great experience, and then some! It’s in the “and then some” that your customers have a Celebrity Experience.

For instance, Diane Anderson of St Petersburg, Florida, told me about her auto mechanic at Wilsey Auto Service, Inc. who goes the extra step of cleaning her car inside and out every time Diane brings the car in for service. When they are really pressed for time, they give Diane a coupon for a full-service car wash and detail. It starts with going the extra mile. What could you do for your customers as a courtesy that you aren’t doing now? Washing her car takes some extra time, and it stands out to Diane because no other auto mechanic has ever offered such service. As a result, they have earned Diane’s loyalty. Remember “and then some.”

Here’s another example that happened to me just recently. As I write this story, I am in Chicago preparing to speak for an association conference tomorrow. I arrived last night so I could spend a day in the hotel room writing this chapter. When I got off the plane, I rented a car to drive myself to the meeting location. Now, I’ve rented many cars in my years working as a professional speaker. Often I take a shuttle bus from the rental car counter to the car lot, and encounter many forms of customer service. Some drivers load my luggage into the shuttle bus, some don’t. Some smile at me and welcome me aboard, some don’t. Some drive carefully and considerately, some don’t. The driver I met last night, however, did everything I had hoped for “and then some.” His name is Ken, and he is a driver for Alamo Rental Car out of Midway Airport in Chicago. He welcomed me on board with a warm smile and friendly hello as he loaded my luggage into the shuttle bus. Usually, this is where it stops. But as I rode, Ken told me everything I needed to know about Chicago. He told me what the weather was at the time and what it would be three days later. He told me that the traffic is always the same – bad- and that I should always leave extra time to get anywhere. He told me how to get back to the rental car lot, and exactly where and how to return my car. He told me where I could purchase gas close to the lot. He told me about sights I might like to see in Chicago and the best places to dine. I didn’t even have to ask him. (The true mark of a celebrity service professional: Answer all the questions your “celebrity” might have, and the ones they don’t even know they have, before they ask.) When we arrived at the lot, he told me to stay in the shuttle bus, and he pulled my rental car around and loaded up my luggage. As I came out of the bus, he helped me inspect the car for damages. Never, in all of my travels, have I encountered such service by a shuttle bus driver. Ken has mastered the art of “And Then Some.”
Why just go through the motions when you can challenge yourself to be extraordinary….and then some?

©2008, Donna Cutting, Use with permission only
This is excerpted, with permission, from “The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service” (Wiley, 2008), by Donna Cutting


Pam Archer said...

I enjoyed reading Donna's book. She is a bright woman, with good, solid advice for anyone who is serving the public in any way, but we could all take a page from her book and apply it to the way we treat our friends and family.

Thank you for these interviews. I have enjoyed reading them, even though I don't always comment.

Kathie M. Thomas said...

Some are real 'people persons' and they love to help others and go out of their way (by the standards of most) to do something extra. And yet, if you asked them about it you would find they feel they weren't doing anything extra - because they do it all the time!

Thanks for sharing this with us.