The color purple has for centuries been associated with nobility. It was the color worn by Roman emperors and kings and queens throughout Europe. When you apply the word to your customers, it means that you are treating them like royalty. (And what customer doesn't like that?)

Says business consultant and author Chip Bell, "Customers love being purpled--raising the class and elegance of service. It is especially powerful during the holiday season." Servers who "purple" find ways to enrich the experience by adorning the mundane. It is a car wash attendant in white coveralls and a tie, or the flight attendant placing plastic flight wings on a child and her doll as they board the flight. And, it is the manicurist who walks out to open the customer's car door and starts her engine so she won't scuff her nails.

Legend has it that in the mid-1600s when Dom Perignon invented what we know today as champagne, he called to his friends and exclaimed (in French, of course), "Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!" Purpling is a deliberate rebellion against plain vanilla service. Here's how to help your customers taste the stars during this holiday season,.

1. Purple Hosting: Treat Customers Like Partners

The holiday experience can be frustrating for customers who then aim their grim mood at a clerk in their path of completing a purchase. Smart service providers encourage the front line to meet dark with light, complaint with compassion, and dour with delight. Purple hosting is greeting customers as if they were returning guests at a luxury hotel. It is the spirit and optimism associated with the start of a treasure hunt.

2. Purple Service: Upgrade the Experience to First Class

To illustrate what upgrading a customer experience is all about, Chip tells this story: "I exited the Charlotte Airport and the taxi that pulled up was spotless. When the driver raised his trunk to deposit my bag, it was lined in a faux mink blanket. As the taxi pulled away, classical music began playing on the radio. The cup holder had a bottle of ice-cold water. Plus, the magazines in the seat were ones you might expect at a luxury hotel. I felt like a rich tycoon in a chauffeur-driven limousine. And it was a 10-year-old Chevrolet! I was purpled!"

3. Purple Thanks: Make Customers Feel Like a Million Bucks

We struggle at holidays to uniquely thank customers for their business. What if we told them why? Like this: "I appreciate your business because you help us be able to continue to serve you." What if you provided customers a gift they could re-gift? "My gift to you is the feeling you will receive when you share this gift with another." It could be unique and simple--your favorite recipe, a poem you wrote or photo you took, or a picture your child drew at school.

Published on: Dec 9, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.