Some people may feel excellent customer service is smiling often and asking them how their day is going. Others may feel it is going above and beyond, such as sharing insider knowledge about secret beaches in the area or a home that includes beach passes that usually cost $20 a day per car.
What we are really talking about is managing customers expectations so the service they receive is perceived as excellent. The question is: How do you, as a company, ensure that customers walk away saying, "Wow, that was excellent service!" so much so that the customer decides to write a review or make a post on social media?
My recommendation is to implement "Surprising and Delighting" as described in Dave Kerpen's book, Likeable Business. Surprising and Delighting is another level of service that requires a very active listener who strives to under promise and over deliver. Following are some examples of what this could look like for a vacation rental management company:
The potential customer is looking for a vacation rental, yet has not made a decision and needs to go back and talk with the rest of the group. Instead of just waiting for the potential customer to shop your competition, ask to set up a time to follow up with them by phone and answer any additional questions the group might have. It is very surprising how many customers embrace this type of follow up. After hanging up, take the time to send them an email with details of the conversation and suggested rentals as well as what is going on in the area while they are visiting. This sets the tone for how their vacation experience will be, showing that it will be easy and seamless to make the reservation and then will be the same once they arrive. It always starts off with the first impression.
The caller shares that they are flying from the East Coast to the West Coast and arriving late at the vacation rental. The reservation sales agent is then able to offer from their concierge service a delivery of food already in the refrigerator, for some late night snacks when they get in or even a few breakfast items, until they have time to go grocery shopping. Even if the customer is not interested, a simple gesture of some coconut water for dehydration from traveling and a few Emergency packets so they get their morning off to a healthy start.
The caller shares that their group coming to stay will be driving back and forth to a nearby city and is concerned about traffic. Of course on the phone, there are helpful tips given. Then as a surprise and delight, the company leaves in the home a map of the area with the city they will be driving back and forth to, with highlighted routes to use to avoid traffic and the best times to travel those routes.
The caller shares that they are coming to do some fishing in the area. When they arrive they are greeted by a few fliers on great fishing holes, along with a hand written note on some secret fishing spots and then some secret fishing bait in the refrigerator.
A fun activity for companies is to have a meeting where the staff gathers to discuss different customer profiles and how to surprise and delight each customer profile with a simple touch to make their experience pleasurable.
My favorite story of excellent customer service was about a customer who frequented a hotel and was a serious Coca-Cola drinker. The next time he checked in to his hotel, there was a six pack of Coca-Cola waiting for him in the room with a note that they appreciated his business.
A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless. Charles de Gaulle
I encourage you to find ways to surprise and delight your customers!