Customers have come to expect good products and service. What blows them away is when companies go beyond the line of duty, giving customers more than they expect.And even little things make a difference and can turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one. Last month, during a trip to Orlando I stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton. I've stayed at Doubletree hotels before and my visits were uneventful and unmemorable. I wasn't expecting anything different this time around, just a clean room, a working TV and hairdryer, hot water, and a comfortable bed.
But the following day the hotel did something that went above and beyond my expectations. I returned to my room to find a cheese platter, two complimentary bottles of water, and a note from the manager thanking me for staying at the hotel. It was an unexpected gesture that completely changed my experience from just OK to memorable. As a result, I will start looking out for Doubletree hotels the next time I'm travelling.
Unexpected gestures are what turn a run-of-the-mill experience into one we'll remember. And frontline employees have an important role to play in wowing customers by going beyond the call of duty. About 18 months ago my then eight-year-old niece fell sick while visiting New York. We tried to get her to a hospital, but the ambulance could not get through since streets were closed for a parade. An NYPD officer who happened to be passing by took her in his arms, ran with her to a nearby police car, and drove her to a nearby hospital, staying with the terrified kid and her mother until she was seen by a doctor.
Needless to say, the whole family was, and still is, grateful for the officer's actions. But what we didn't expect was the officer returning to the hotel where my niece was staying with her mother and grandparents when his shift was over with cookies for the young girl. It was an unexpected and unnecessary gesture that we'll always remember when talking about the NYPD.
Small actions can not only transform an experience into a memorable one, but also change the perception of an organization in customers' eyes. It can make the difference between a one-time transaction and a continuous business relationship. Moreover, it can turn customers into advocates and promoters.