Unbelievable customer experience is like bird poop …. It’s out of the blue and you never see it coming.

It can come at any time, from anybody.

A few weeks ago, we were in Chattanooga, Tennessee for my son’s rowing regatta and we stayed at a Holiday Inn that was a short walk to the river.

To be clear, we did not CHOSE this hotel. The team negotiated a package deal with a block of rooms. While my family appreciated the preferred room rate in the package, we were unclear as to what other “extras” were added in. We were told at check-in that we would get free breakfasts, and between the rate and the grub, I was thrilled.

At first glance, during the drive in, Chattanooga looked a bit shady. But once we got downtown, it was a beautiful city with attractions and an abundance of food and lavation options. Overall the weekend was incredible. The weather was perfect. The racing, with more than 2,500 boats, was electrifying. And, best of all, the kid was busy with his team, so my wife and I essentially had a date weekend!!!

You may know how these sort of kid events go … parents talk. Some of the talk that we overheard was some parents in our group saying that they were getting free parking at the hotel. Now, I’m not necessarily cheap, but forty bucks is forty bucks. When we got back to the hotel that afternoon, I simply want to find out if it was true. There was no line at the front desk so I asked, only to learn that you can’t trust everything that you overhear from rowing parents. And honestly, I didn’t care. No harm done. I asked, I learned, I moved on.

But, the Holiday Inn staff had NOT moved on.

The hand-written noteThat night, when we returned from dinner, there was a basket in our room. A beautifully wrapped basket with a variety of snacks, water … and a hand-written note.

From my simple enquiry, Oralia from the front desk took action. She assembled the basket, she took the time to write a note and she offered to waive the parking fee.

She also asked that I “don’t go on bragging about” her, but here it is for the whole world to see.

What made this a “wow” moment is that it was completely unexpected. I wasn’t angry at the hotel, I didn’t demand anything. I simply asked a question and walked away. But Oralia saw an OPPORTUNITY to go above and beyond.

The next time we go to Chattanooga, we’ll be staying at the Holiday Inn.  We also told folks on our team about it so the odds of us reserving another block of 40-50 rooms with them for next year’s race are pretty darn good too.

You don’t necessarily need Oralia to make this happen. This is not a one person thing, it’s a cultural thing.

  • Hire people who want to please
    (give those that don’t give a damn the opportunity to find a different company that better fits their personality)
  • Train them to look for opportunities
  • Within a framework, give them the autonomy to give “wow” service
  • Recognize and reward it!

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