And you thought you had good service!

A stunning sunset view from the hotel.
A stunning sunset view from the hotel.

I recently came back from an incredible holiday in India where I experienced the best hotel service I have ever seen. Oberoi Hotels were the chain we used throughout our stay.

We like to think that we provide great service, and I am sure to large extent many do, but how do you teach a huge hotel chain with thousands of employees to not only understand this philosophy but to implement it in their every working hour?

Allow me to share 3 moments which were typical of the kind of service my family and I experienced.

Early on, my wife was clearly unimpressed with my suggestion that we go to India for a family holiday: “We are all going to get sick, and we don’t even like Indian food!”

I persevered and told my wife that after three visits to India for business, I hadn’t seen any of the real India, and decided that we must make the effort to unlock the magic I knew was there. So off we went, with at least 50 Litres of hand sanitiser and one small suitcase that could clearly provide medical assistance to anyone and everyone in the hotel or at least any type of antibiotic or stomach settling cure.

Some of the hotel staff - always smiliing!
Some of the hotel staff – always smiling!

On our first morning in the hotel we were having a buffet breakfast, with my wife surreptitiously wiping down under the table every knife, fork or spoon we planned to use with a carefully concealed hospital grade cleaner. The manager of the restaurant, with his eagle eye wandered over, introduced himself to my wife – and might I add, calling her by family name – proceeded in a super friendly manner that he fully appreciates her concern as to the cleanliness issues in India, but she can rest assured that in this hotel she can even drink the water that they serve at our table. It was the next step which set the tone for us, and in particular for the expectations of my wife, as clearly this restaurant manager had anticipated who he was dealing with.

In a friendly and relaxed manner he asked my wife if we were touring today, and if so he would like to prepare a box of food from the buffet that we could take with us. If we were hungry we didn’t have to eat out in some unsanitary establishment as we would be well supplied for the day. That act alone of anticipating my wife’s concerns was replayed countless times over the next two week period, and in itself changed her demeanour, enabling us to bring back 40L of hand sanitiser 🙂 and set the tone for a wonderful incident free holiday.

One morning I stepped out of the room with two of my three children in tow. We were greeted by the general manager who introduced himself and addressed me by name, and I think we can all agree that’s nice but nothing special. However, he then turned to my two children and addressed them by their names directly… apart from bringing a huge smile to their faces, this told me that the only way he could have done this was to have studied their passport photo earlier, and could have no idea when he may or may not have seen us that day. You gotta be impressed.

Colourful produce at the local market.
Colourful produce at the local market.

Another time I happened to leave my iPad on my bed one morning as we dashed out the door. On my return I found my iPad sitting on the desk with a handwritten note: “Dear Mr. Baron we noticed that your iPad didn’t have a case, so we’d like to provide you with a small gift to ensure that it is protected whilst you travel.” The iPad was resting on a hand-stitched padded envelope type cover… very cool.

Some of you might look at these three examples and just think, “well if you pay enough for a good hotel that’s the sort of service you get.”

My question to you is that when your customers (regular or not) spend thousands of dollars with you – what do you actually do? How far do you look ahead and anticipate their needs? To what extent do you know your customers and their family members?

All three cases above occurred the first day I had stayed at this one hotel, and we had moved between 7 different hotels on this trip.

If we were all to take a chapter from their book, what could we do?

Here are some ideas: as a diamond wholesaler could you provide a gift like a storage box for your retailer to hold your diamonds in their safe? Could you talk to them about bringing in a security expert on how they could protect their business and themselves? When is the last time you provided their team a diamond lesson on pinks and yellows? Can you do more, can you teach more, can you share more?

As a diamond retailer, could you gift your customer a jewellery box for all the other items? Have you ever physically shown them how to clean the jewellery with a soft toothbrush and some warm soapy water? If they walked into the store with their children do you know their names? There is some very cool software that could help everyone in the store share such information.
My next comment might sound a bit self-serving, but have you asked your customer if they have their jewellery properly insured? In particular will they have peace of mind that if there was a claim they would always be returned to your store?

At your next breakfast meeting with your team you might sit down and brainstorm what you could do as a business. Not everything costs money; many times it could be small thoughtful actions which could be a game changer. Imagine a woman is outside your shop (that’s right, outside, not in your shop) and you see her child with sticky hands from an ice cream, as she looks around in desperation for something to wipe the child’s hands. How simple would it be to have a little box sanitised wipes and for you to just step out and lend a helping hand. You never know who your next customer might be, but I guarantee you she will be talking about you for years to come.

Some people might call this good old fashion service, and maybe it is; but I think that we’ve forgotten to look outside what’s immediately in front of us and understand the enormous impact we can have on other people’s lives on our own in doing selfless small gestures. Are these deeds diminished because we are discussing them in a commercial context? Maybe, but actually I believe that when we make this part of our day-to-day life and we teach others around us this culture, it stops being a moneymaking proposition but rather part of who we are and what we do. And you don’t need me to tell you what happens next.

Trade well.

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