“Should auld acquaintance be forgot…” has a special meaning every year about this time. As the familiar song ushers in the New Year, I reflect on those service experiences that left me with a sweet aftertaste; the ones that got my emotional motor revved up the highest level. Those were all focused on a happy experience that was also new…not just great. It led me to consider 2015 as a time to focus on “happy” and “new.” Happy New Year!
What makes us happy? It is when the service provider is focused on us–the customer. Remember that great diner scene from the movie Five Easy Pieces when Jack Nicholson tried to order a plain omelet with a side order of wheat toast? He ran straight into: “No side orders, only what’s on the menu,” “No substitutions” and “I don’t make the rules.” His solution was a creative one, but expensive: “I like a plain omelet with a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast—hold the chicken, hold the mayonnaise, bring me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you hadn’t broken any rules.”
Tasks are important; rules are essential. But, revenue comes from the customer. Those service providers that made me happy were willing to adjust regulations to meet special requests. They were encouraged and empowered to put me first; not their procedures. No one violated a safety decree or put his or her organization at risk. No one made decisions on my behalf that adversely impacted their employer’s revenue. In fact their decisions to be adaptable increased my devotion and willingness to return to give them even more money!
But, the part that made my special experiences even most memorable were those that were new and fresh. Even very good service can become ho hum after a while. I recall the car repair service tech that put an ice-cold bottle of water in the vehicle cup holder in the middle of hot July or the hotel bartender who, on my second visit, remembered my favorite adult beverage and brought it to my table even before I said a word.
Great customer service makes me smile but innovative service takes my breath away. When I get great service I make a mental note to return. When I get inventive service—service with sprinkles on top–I can’t wait to share the story with friends and family. “New” service doesn’t take highly creative service people. It simply takes people who enjoy delivering a surprise and evoking a smile. Innovative service is sourced in joy and fun. It comes from the same part of the soul that plans a prank, organizes a party, or does a favor for a friend.
As we begin 2015, ignore the doomsday warnings of pessimistic economists and hand wringing news reporters gloating on dark predictions. You create your own future. Sure, these are challenging times. Of course, we are in an era of frugality and reduction. We’ve been in tough economic times before. The winners are those who view it as an opportunity to turn lemons into champagne. So, make 2015 your very best year ever. Let this be the year you deliver “happy, new” service experiences to those you serve! Happy New Year!
Photo Credit: 3andoo via Flickr