How Excellent Service Creates Customers for Life

Build a Customer Experience They want to Write Home About

If focusing on service is a significant step on the InSPIRED leadership path, how do you go about making excellent service an everyday practice? You guessed it—by being Intentional

Great service doesn’t happen by accident. Every member of your organization is a person who has good days and bad days. 

Without a detailed plan in place for excellent service, you’ll only get the best any of those people can bring themselves to give on any given day. 

But if you architect superior service every step of the way, you’ll know in advance, and with great certainty, the quality of your customer experience. 

You’ll be able to deliver the gold standard when you define what optimal service must look like for your customer.  

Excellent Service Creates Exceptional Stories

As I serve business leaders and organizations around the world, I travel quite a bit and stay in many hotels. Sometimes my wife goes with me. When we visit San Diego, my wife loves to stay at the Hotel del Coronado (or Hotel Del).

If you’ve never experienced the Hotel Del, it is a magical place to stay. 

It was built in 1888 and turned into a National Historic Landmark in 1977. It has hosted presidents, movie stars, and all manner of famous people. Located right on the Pacific Ocean and just outside downtown San Diego, it has a unique vibe. 

When we visited a few years ago, we checked in, got our keys, and went to the room. When we opened the door, the room looked nice, but no different than any other hotel room. 

Plus, it faced the parking lot, so the view wasn’t great. A little disappointed, I went back down to the front desk clerk and explained that I was here with my wife and needed a bit of downtime. I asked if she might be able to put us in a better room. 

Her response was excellent service in action. It gave us a customer experience extraordinaire. 

She clicked a few keys on her computer, issued new room keys, and sent us to the new room.  We walked down the hall both nervous and excited to see what was behind the next door.

As we swung open the door, the view took our breath away.

This Californian cabana looked out over beautiful landscape and onto the Pacific Ocean. Out the back door was a small patch of grass that transitioned to the dunes and then on to the beach. 

An incredible beach vibe immediately washed over us as we felt the stress slip away. We could hear waves crashing with immense power and beauty. Sunlight streamed in through windows and doors, as the salty smell of the ocean permeated everything.

It was the polar opposite of the parking lot view in the other room. 

Excellent Service Sets You Apart

Did the lady at the front desk have to upgrade us to this room? Certainly not. 

But in doing so, she delivered a wow experience like nothing I’ve ever experienced. That was no accident. 

Long before we arrived, someone architected that experience, empowering and encouraging her as a frontline employee to make superior customer service a top priority. 

No matter your industry, when you deliver that kind of experience to your customers, you set yourself apart from your competitors. 

Any hotel could provide us with a decent room and a continental breakfast, but Hotel Del provided us with an experience we’re still talking about. Even better, we committed this year to annual stays by joining Hotel Del’s Club level membership. After this particularly outstanding teammate served us well, we more than returned the value of her service. 

3 Tips For Excellent Service

Every team member has the ability to create a WOW experience for each customer—if they feel equipped and encouraged to deliver. Here are three tips for taking an average interaction from eh to excellent. 

1. Get in Their Shoes

To best serve your customer, you have to think like your customer. What are they in front of you to experience? What might be a potential source of stress? What could put their experience with your brand/company/team over the top? 

2. Take the Extra Step

The steps to excellent service are, more often than not, simple—they just take that extra step. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy on your mission.  

So if you don’t have the information your customer needs or the authority to architect a WOW experience, take the time to gather, research, connect, ask, extend, engage, and even surprise! 

3. See the Big Picture

Every interaction between you, your team, and your customers is just one moment in their larger story. But a truly inspired brand can leverage a single moment into a memory. 

It might feel inconveniencing to take the extra step for a customer you may never see again—but with the bigger picture in mind, that one act of InSpired value can spark a connection that brings them back again and again and again.

Make this level of excellent service part of your value proposition. 

Anyone can do what you can do, but no one can do it the way you do it. I call it serving others “from tip to tail.” It means you see customers as valued individuals, without whom you wouldn’t exist. 

Average brands/teams perform individual tasks day after day. InSpired brands/teams create customer experiences they will never forget. 

Architect a wow customer experience to make service your strength. Lean into it—and shine. 

Why You Need a Productivity Plan in a Changing World

Spoiler Alert: You Can Be Busy But Not Productive

It’s always interesting to try to imagine what the future will bring. 

The Jetsons cartoon show, based in the year 2062, envisioned a future where robots do all the housework, cars fold up to the size of a briefcase, and much of what we need is automated. 

We’ve got forty more years to see how that turns out. The movie Bladerunner, set in 2019, envisioned a future where rogue replicants were virtually indistinguishable from humans. 

Back to the Future II, set in 2015, predicted hover cars, self-lacing Nikes, and food rehydrators. The film 2001: A Space Odyssey predicted a colonized moon by 2001. 

While predictions of the future are often wrong, what we know is that the present will change dramatically in a short period of time.

The more technology advances, the more the business environment must advance with it. If you aren’t paying attention, you may just get left behind. 

You need a productivity plan. 

Consider this list of things that didn’t exist fifteen years ago: 

  • iPhone
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • iPad
  • Netflix streaming
  • Google Maps
  • Snapchat
  • Spotify
  • Android
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Alexa
  • Airbnb
  • App Store
  • Google Chrome
  • WhatsApp
  • Fitbit
  • Waze
  • Slack
  • Square
  • Dropbox
  • Pinterest
  • Venmo
  • Bitcoin
  • Hulu
  • Kindle

The lesson for an InSPIRED leader is this: change is inevitable and you can either get left behind or develop a plan for growth that puts you in the best place for success.

Stand still and you’ll be outpaced rather quickly. But if you’re nimble enough to move wisely with the changing times, you are in a position to grow with them. 

But this lesson comes with a warning. 

Tyranny of the Urgent vs. a Productivity Plan

There’s a mistaken notion that being busy is the same thing as being productive. It’s the tyranny of the urgent in action. 

By responding to the urgent, we tend to neglect the really important things in life—production capacity, personal growth, striving to make a difference, living a life of adventure, building a family, or crafting a leadership legacy. 

In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, Red, “the guy who can get anything,” says, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” 

In a counterintuitive way, busyness may seem productive, but it can actually be a distraction that slows you down. When you don’t invest time to put first things first, you’ll fall behind faster and struggle to catch up.

The truth is many people don’t know how to adapt when things change, so they remain still, embracing the madness they know. However, nothing in life remains still. 

If you’re not intentionally growing, developing, and moving, you’re not standing still—you’re getting left behind. That’s why you need a productivity plan. 

No One Gets Productive by Accident

I’ve spent my fair share of time in airports around the world. Have you ever paid attention to what happens when you step on one of the “moving sidewalks” between concourses?

These giant conveyor belts run silently in the floor, moving people along at about 1.4 miles per hour. The average person walking briskly (as you might expect in an airport) moves at about 3 miles per hour. 

airport-walking-sidewalk

So, if a person walks onto a moving sidewalk and continues a normal stride, he or she can go farther, faster. 

But consider this. Suppose you and a friend are walking through the concourse together at a steady 3 miles an hour clip trying to make a connecting flight.

Your friend jumps on the moving sidewalk and keeps walking at his normal pace. You stop to find something in your carry-on, figuring you’ll just catch up in a minute. But when you look up, you can’t even see your friends in the crowd ahead. He’s gone, and you’ve been left behind. 

Unfortunately, many people make this same mistake in leadership. 

They set aside intentional development and think they can just catch up later. But when you stop, you stagnate. Stagnate long enough and you’ll die. There is no standing still in life. 

You’re either moving forward or falling behind.

Spend Your Time Where You Want to Reap Results

So if you shouldn’t stay still, but you shouldn’t hop on the hamster wheel just for the sake of moving, what’s the answer?

It comes down to your priorities. Your to-do list is broken. 

Spend time only on the urgent.

So where you spend your time? Are you taking advantage of the “moving sidewalks” or sitting against the wall waiting for the right moment to move. (HINT: you’ll be waiting forever.) 

Where are you growing and where are you letting yourself stagnate? Don’t neglect it. Otherwise, the world will pass you by, and you’ll wonder where everybody went. 

I’m not advocating hustle and grind 24/7 with no rest or relaxation. 

I’m advocating an intentional, holistic productivity plan for developing every day in the midst of executing with excellence. 

We can’t live in either ditch. We need results for today AND results for tomorrow.