The following story is taken from a book on client experience that I have read, highlighted, earmarked, and read again. It’s called What Customers Really Want by Scott McKain, and the stories he shares support the fact that too many company executives think that customer experience and superior service must involve big dollars and nice trinkets. Studying the companies that “wow” the client reveals that the biggest differences come in the smallest gestures (check out Tom Peters new book The Little Big Things at amazon.com).
At Highfill Performance Group I’m committed to providing stories that help you influence others by delivering more of the why and less of the what. If you are trying to convince others that subtle behaviors can create a dynamite experience, use the the following story found on page one of Scott’s book:
As I sat in the wrecked automobile, dust from the air bag covered my suit. My ears still ringing from the shotgunlike sound of the bag’s deployment, I opened the car door and walked to the other driver to make certain he was OK.
I returned to my car and, finding my cell phone on the floorboard, I called the police. Then, still a little woozy from the accident, I realized there was another call I needed to make. I was driving a rental car from Hertz.
I pulled the car rental agreement from the glove compartment and found the number I knew was listed but had never had to use. The words on the folder read, “If you’re in an accident, call the police and then call this number.” I had called the police — now it was time to call Hertz and tell them I had just totaled one of their cars.
“This is Hertz,” the kind voice on the other end of the line answered. “How may I help you?”
“Well, I hate to tell you this — I have never had to make one of these calls before — but I’ve just wrecked my rental car.”
“Yes sir — I understand. Are you all right?”
“Yes ma’am, I’m fine. Thanks for asking.”
“May I have your name, please?”
“Certainly . . . it’s Scott McKain.” My head was throbbing from the combination of the accident, the heat of the afternoon, and the stress of the traffic jam that had been caused (during rush hour in New York City!) by the accident. Suffice it to say that the middle-finger salutes our accident was eliciting were not out of concern for my health.
“Mr. McKain . . . are you absolutely sure that you are OK?” the Hertz representative inquired.
“Well–I am a little wobbly right now, but I’m not injured.”
“I want to make certain,” she said. “Hertz can always get another car–but we can NEVER get another Mr. McKain.”
That’s when Hertz transcended from customer service to compelling experience — that’s when they provided what I REALLY wanted.
I think this is a great example of just one conversational line, delivered by a concerned employee, that transcended an encounter from something satisfying to something memorable. If you have a story to share, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure to include it on the site!!
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