Here are two suggestions (one perhaps new, the other actually a reaffirmation) based on this week´s business trip to El Paso, TX.
First, when a customer thanks you for what both of you recognize is positively outrageous service, as T. Scott Gross calls it, ask her to tell her friends about it. Many customers when asked will do just that. I flew to El Paso on Southwest Airlines. We landed 15 minutes early (no, really). As we pulled to the gate, the flight attendant activated the intercom with a smile in her voice and said, "Now y´all be sure to tell everyone you arrived 15 minutes early, because I know you tell them when we´re late." That got quite a chuckle out of the passengers. But it started me thinking; perhaps we should ask our customers to spread the word when we do something that exceeds their needs. For example, "I´m glad you like our service. Be sure and tell your friends about us." It won´t cost you anything and it´ll accelerate your word of mouth advertising.
Second (here´s the reaffirmation) when you´ve made a mistake or delivered customer service that fails to meet the customer´s expectation, apologize, then surprise them with a small gift or free service to make up for it.
My two co-workers and I ate dinner at Dominic´s, an Italian restaurant that also serves steaks. The service was efficient and friendly. The only negative was that the kitchen was slow in getting the food out. While two different waiters acknowledged the slowness, neither apologized. I would suggest offering us free desserts. The effort would have been appreciated and might have raised "the Dominic´s experience" to the "positively outrageous" level. Had we taken them up on their offer of dessert, and it was the same quality as the entrees, that would have given us an additional reason to brag about the restaurant.
Fortunately my co-workers and I had plenty to talk about so we didn´t view the wait in a negative light. When the food arrived it was outstanding. From bread to the main entrees and the side dishes, it all exceeded our expectations. Despite the kitchen´s slowness, I will eat there again and recommend them to you and others.
Remember, don´t be afraid to ask people to tell others about your legendary customer service. Apologize and surprise your customers when something goes wrong.
“I’ve never been sorry for opportunities taken, only opportunities missed.”