Are You Rollin’ Out The Red Carpet?

red carpet

I’m a little tired of hearing how people are “increasing customer service” during this tough economic time. What bugs me is that they’re not really increasing their customer service. What they’re really doing is increasing their sales efforts.

Doing things to entice people to spend more money with you isn’t customer service, it’s sales and marketing. Calling it customer service sounds manipulative and desperate to me.

Customer service is doing things that add to your customer’s experience, or that provide extra value to the money their spending with you. Saying thanks and inventing ways to make your customers glad they work with you…that’s customer service.

Service, hmmm. Isn’t the concept of service simply doing something that enhances quality of life for someone else?

I’m quite proud of some true customer service we performed at sparkspace last week. We had a large meeting that occupied our entire retreat center. We had a full house and our staff worked super hard to make sure every room was well taken care of. This effort alone was pretty great customer service. However, we went a step further.

The meeting had a Hollywood/movie script theme to it. In fact, the previous day this group had met at a local movie theater for a series of presentations.

We decided this group deserved to have a little extra fun with their theme, so we transformed our lobby into a movie theater lobby, complete with popcorn machine, movie candy, and life-size cutouts of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Capt. Jack Sparrow (aka Johnny Depp). We even set up a “paparazzi station” so the meeting participants could have their pictures taken alongside these cardboard celebrities.

And to top it all off, we literally rolled out a red carpet.

The response was, as you might expect, pretty spectacular. We took them by complete surprise and added excitement and value to their experience. At the end of the day, they actually asked our staff to come in so they could publicly recognize them for a job well done. The planners even told the entire group that THIS is what their company’s customer service should look like.

We spent around $150 to pull all of this off. It’s not a big spending spree like one you’d have to fix your credit after, but it still was a lot given the circumstances. Did we think twice about spending that money during this down economy? Were we worried about recovering that money from the client? Not at all.

We simply saw an opportunity to create a million dollars worth of service for less than a couple of Benjamins. I’ll do that every time. And I know in my bones that moves like this are always rewarded with unshakable loyalty (i.e., more long-term business).

When things get slow, the natural tendency is to figure out how to squeeze more money out of our clients and customers. This week, I hope you think instead about how you can add value.

Here’s your challenge:

Gather your team and brainstorm ways you could say thanks, add value, or increase your customer’s experience. Don’t think about sales. In fact, be completely selfless. Think only about them. Then pick a client or two and just give ’em some love. By all means, don’t break the bank doing it, but there are lots of things you can do for little or no money. You could provide a free workshop, send a small thank you gift, or even forward them the link to this blog and tell them you thought they would LOVE IT.

Roll out the red carpet this week. It will surprise and delight your customers and it will change your business for the better.

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Here you'll find ideas, tips, and techniques to help make your next offsite your best meeting yet.We've learned a lot during the 15,000+ meetings we've hosted, and we never stop learning (and sharing) because meetings and teams are always evolving. Be sure to leave comments and join the conversation!