Business travel is never easy, and having a tight connection to San Francisco in Minneapolis is one that many of us face. Flying is always stressful -- even more so when you have to catch your next flight at breakneck speed. When I know I am going to have to haul it across an airport, I psych myself up to quickly switch terminals to make the next flight.
However, on this particular day, I was surprised when I disembarked from the plane. There was a Delta representative on the jetway in a suit, holding an iPad up with my name on it. Delta had anticipated my tight connection and he was there to give me -- a frequent flyer with Delta with status -- a ride to my next flight. In a Porsche!
At first I was shocked, but once he assured me he really was from Delta, I gladly accepted the Porsche service. Being driven across the tarmac saved a ton of time. I even found myself with 30 minutes to spare, and because of that, he took me directly to the Sky Club to wait for my flight and handed me a thank you card for being a loyal Delta customer.
To say this was a pleasant experience from start to finish is just an understatement. It was a delight, and the fact that it was a surprise, that I had no way to anticipate it, is a big part of what bowled me over. Everyone appreciates a special gesture and we actually remember unexpected incidents even more so, according to scientific research.
This experience with Delta reminds me of two key principles that I try to make the foundation of customer service in my business:
1. Go out of your way for your best customers.
Every single customer should be treated like they are your best customer. That should be the baseline.
But find a way to reward the most loyal customers that goes above and beyond of what they would expect from another business in your industry. Don't take their loyalty for granted, show you appreciate them and they will keep rewarding you.
2. Make your customers feel special.
There are lots of ways to improve customer service, but when it comes to prioritizing, you should focus on efforts that will make customers feel significant.
Maya Angelou has a perfect quote about this: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." If you want to build that connection with your customers, you have to do things to inspire positive feelings.
There's also a great quote from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, which explains, "What works in marketing is the same as what works in the military: the unexpected."
If you want to be memorable and create great customer service experiences, think of how you can surprise and delight your customers every so often. It will make a big impression.