Tours Travel

Small Business Branding: 5 Lessons on How Customer Service Communicates Beyond the Brand

Small business branding is simple when you remember one thing: It’s all about the customer experience. Here is a true story from one of my professional conference travel logs:

It all started at the airport.

The free shuttle van pulled up to the hotel and a nice man with white hair and a big smile got out and did something no shuttle driver had ever done.

He shook my hand and introduced himself as Robert.

I knew at that moment that this trip was going to be different.

Instead of selecting a seat in the back, as the only passenger in the truck, I decided to ride “shotgun”, in the front seat next to Robert. For the next few minutes, Robert kindly shared with me the recent history of the area, talked about his family and his young grandchildren, and chatted with me about the weather. When I asked him to change the route to take me to a pharmacy to pick up an item that I promised a friend, he didn’t hesitate. He then whisked me to my destination and carried my bag to the lobby, where he introduced me to the front desk staff by name.

At this point I was a bit shaken and I must confess that I don’t remember the name of the woman who couldn’t check me in: she had arrived at 10:45 hours before check-in time. But she was kind enough to take my name and bag and she told me that she would do her best to speed up my room and check me in.

Less than 30 minutes later, a colleague and I were having lunch in the hotel lobby restaurant when hotel manager Dean Kirk walked by. He looked directly at me and said, “Hello, Mrs. Slattery. Can I get you something or help you in any way today?”

Go Back the train. Of course, my kids think I’m a big deal because I got free tickets to a movie premiere based on my Twitter stats, but in real life? Hardly. The only places I get “recognized” are events where my face appears on the sales page…never by random people in the world. And while I was in this hotel to speak at an event that was going on there, I was pretty sure the hotel manager called me by name and asked for my help and had no idea I was associated with that group. I still don’t know how he knew my name.

I told him my room wasn’t ready yet and he said he’d be right back. Within a few minutes he came back and said that my room was now waiting for me and that he would personally help me check in when I was done with my lunch.

Natasha, the lovely young lady at the restaurant went out of her way to create a special plate of snacks and treats for a special client intensive training I was doing together with my colleague. Natasha stocked the fridge with cold drinks instead of leaving them on a table to warm up and sneaked in some extra brownies and bottles of water just for us, free of charge, and said if we needed anything we’d call her and she’d be there. until.

A little later, in our VIP suite, the front desk called and told us we had a delivery, but they knew we were in a meeting and would bring it up right away. That’s when I saw the hotel manager, Dean Kirk, again as he delivered the package himself.

Fast forward a couple of days when my colleague and I wanted to take our VIPs and clients out for lunch, James, another shuttle driver, broke the rules for us. I explained that we were in a hurry between sessions at the event and that I HAD to be back on time because he was scheduled to speak immediately after lunch. James came back to pick us up right on time, without us having to call first, breaking regular hotel rules.

THIS was no ordinary Embassy Suites.

When you think of superior first-class service, what hotel brands come to mind? The Ritz Carlton. The W. The Four Seasons. But the Embassy Suites? Not usually. After this trip I realized, the level of customer service of any organization can transcend the brand when the people involved are committed to providing the best possible experience to their customers, clients, or as in this case, guests.

As an individual or small business owner, you may not have employees, but you likely have people who represent you in some way, possibly a virtual assistant or help desk person, and you use other products that represent you to Your clients. The key is finding people and services that are as committed as you are to providing a first-class experience. Here are a few lessons from my stay at the Embassy Suites at Brier Creek, Raleigh, North Carolina:

  1. Call your customers by name: The most pleasant sound for any human being is the sound of his own name. When you wear it, people feel special. In your autoresponder, messages start with the person’s first name. When answering questions on teleseminars or from the stage, get the person’s name and use it when answering.
  2. Go further: When your customers or clients need your help, surprise them by being available. Share links or tips with them or stay on the phone a little longer; remember that these are people who have paid you money. Treat them like this!
  3. Add a little more to the house: What cool bonuses or giveaways could you offer your customers and customers? People loved being pleasantly surprised by little extras.
  4. Break the rules for them: Think about some of the rules you have in place, like your working hours or various policies when working with clients. So think about your best customers. If one of your best clients asks you for a favor that goes against one of your policies, or doesn’t ask for a favor, but you know that breaking your rule will help…would you? You could if you were committed to excellent customer service.
  5. Be considerate: People love knowing you’ve been thinking about them. You may not have to decide whether to leave a cold drink on the table or keep it in the fridge, but what might be a good thought to offer your customers? Maybe just leave a birthday greeting that goes beyond two words on their Facebook page or send a link to a free teleseminar you thought would be helpful to them, or introduce them to a helpful prospect or vendor.

When you provide incredible customer service, the brand doesn’t matter in the slightest. It’s the experience you give your customers that will make them remember you and your brand, fall in love with your brand, and stay loyal to your brand.

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