Loyalty of your people is a key to most any business success. – Truett Cathy
About a month or so ago, I flew to New York for a business engagement. The group I was speaking with graciously booked a car to pick me up from the airport and take me to my hotel. Normally when this happens you go to baggage claim and there are a bunch of drivers standing there with a cardboard sign or a piece of paper or maybe even an iPad today with your name on it. But not this time.
As soon as I stepped off the escalator, a man walked up to me and said, “Hello Mr. Kitchens, welcome to New York!” My first question was, of course, “How did you know it was me?” The driver responded, “Well, you are all over the internet. I looked you up. I always look up my clients if I don’t know them.” He then turned over his iPad to show me my picture from our website and notes of things that were on my bio.
When I got into the car, he had laid a rugby magazine on the seat for me. He obviously had done his research because he knew several things specific to Kalamazoo to talk about – one of them (and yes it is an easy one) was Derek Jeter. But here is a small business guy who thought about how to add value and make his customers feel more important than they actually are. This should be so easy to do in today’s world, but how many of us actually take the time to do it?
Instead, we often make our customers feel like commodities. We ask for their data and then we don’t use it to make them feel special. Even with the connectivity we have from social media sites likes LinkedIn, we should be building personal relationships to build raving fans for our organizations, not just racking up meaningless connections.
Here’s another example: we were in Dallas to visit our daughter Kelsey for Parents Weekend a few weeks back. We stayed at a hotel across from campus, where we have stayed before, but when we arrived this time, the first person we saw said, “Happy Birthday Mrs. Kitchens.” This was Thursday and her birthday was that Saturday. She asked how he knew that and he replied, “You’d be surprised at what we know.” A few hours later there was a knock on the door. A hotel staff member was there to deliver a piece of dessert that said Happy Birthday, fresh flowers, a pair of flip flops with the hotel’s logo, a cheap pair of sunglasses and a beach towel – none of which were expensive, but all very thoughtful. The note signed by the staff said, “We know it is too cold in Michigan to enjoy the beach and boating, but we hope you think of us next summer when you are back on the water.”
The hotel had looked at Lyn’s Facebook page and saw that she has a passion for boating and the beach. They built a custom gift for her with things they probably already had on hand at the hotel. This isn’t the Ritz Carlton – it was a $200/night hotel, but the world now demands Ritz Carlton service at moderate prices. That has become the expectation.
If we aren’t doing the little things to make our clients and people who are important to us feel that way, we will very quickly become irrelevant or we’ll soon find that we are now just a commodity to them. The roles will flip.
Commodities are easy to change because it is purely based on pricing. If, as leaders, we want our organizations to be great and our people to feel valued, we have to clearly understand what is important to them. In the sales process, we have to build that outstanding level of service. I can tell you, Lyn will never forget that random act of kindness. That hotel now has a customer for life. This is the kind of loyalty we need to focus on building each and every day – after all, there’s really no excuse not to.
Question: What small acts could you do for your customers or team members to make them feel important and valued?