What can you to help your customers in these uncertain economic times, even if it doesn’t result in immediate payback to you?
When we think of helping occupations, our minds traditionally turn to the caring professions of nursing, social work and emergency workers. But, every career has the capacity to care; to combine the head and the heart; to feel we make a difference to both our own pocket books and fill pockets of need in others, through random acts of kindness.
When I started speaking professionally, I believed I could make money and make a difference. However, like most small business owners, I was often plagued with doubt. One such occasion followed a five hour flight when I arrived at the hotel with no voice. Scheduled to speak to 400 sales people the next morning, this was indeed a predicament!
At check-in, the receptionist started her standard greeting, outlining the five star facilities but I cut her short, with little more than a whisper, to say that I wasn’t well and simply wanted to get to my room immediately. I quickly unpacked, showered and curled up in bed, feeling somewhat sorry for myself away from home, when I heard an unexpected knock at the door.
I croakily informed him that I hadn’t ordered room service.
"Yes, Ms DeVrye, we know you haven’t ordered room service but we also know you’re not feeling well, so have brought some hot lemon and honey with our compliments."
Sure enough, on a silver tray, was exactly what I would have wanted if I’d been home. In addition, there was a hand written note from the chef offering to make chicken soup and another note from the concierge, with some vitamin C tablets and an offer to get any additional medication from the pharmacy in town.
As someone who spends over 80 nights per year in 5 star hotels thanks to the wonderful world of conferences, I know that sort of service isn’t standard, nor in anyone’s job description. The receptionist put herself in my shoes and coordinated others to deliver outstanding service. I felt better already and naturally, any traveller would remember that experience long after they’d forgotten the marble in the foyer!
My voice marginally restored the next day, I addressed the sale team and used this real time example of going that extra mile to truly care about the customer. I’d arranged for the receptionist to attend the presentation and when I later checked out, she said she felt somewhat shocked by the spontaneous applause from the audience.
"Just to know that you felt better, made me feel better - I didn’t expect any thanks." By doing that little extra, she gained extra satisfaction for herself.
I’m pleased to report that the sales company adopted ‘Hot Lemon & Honey’ service as their annual theme, achieving record profits that year. And, Hot Lemon & Honey…Reflections For Success in Times of Change subsequently became the title for a book, which I’m honoured was endorsed by the late Sir Edmund Hillary.
Remember this receptionist, and all the other folks mentioned in this article, when you get up and head off to work each day. Because, in spite of the frustration we all experience in our daily tasks, it's reassuring to remember that we too truly can make our life worth living as our living is being made.
"Emma is a delight to work with. She has taken the time to understand our business and as a result is very responsive to our requests for speakers and matching the right person to our many events."
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