Spicing Up The Service Experience


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Holiday turkey is not the same without dressing! And, no chef, cook or wanna-be would make dressing without sage. It is a spice the typical cook uses for very few other dishes other than for dressing. Even if it takes yet another trip to the crowded grocery store during the holidays it is a must to ensure culinary perfection.

Service is not prepared and delivered to the table of customers without the right spice. Just like turkey dressing without sage, if you skip the service spice, customers receive a bland, lackluster experience. And, today’s overstimulated customers expect service with a cherry-on-top. Even a functionally accurate satisfactory service experience is often viewed as ho-hum in a marketplace of glitz, glamor and personalization.

Service spices are the little extras. It is the doorman with an umbrella not just a welcoming smile. It is the deli with tasty samples and the checkout clerk with a compliment. It is the reception area overseer who gives customers in the waiting area access to the remote control, the car repair that washes your car and leaves a cold bottled water in your cup holder. Or, the restaurant that remembers your favorite drink or even brings it to you along with the menu.

Service spices work when they are understated and subtle—like sage in the turkey dressing. A colorful gumball machine sits on a small table at the entrance foyer to Miller Brothers Ltd., an upscale men’s clothing store in Atlanta. Beside it is a large bowl of shiny pennies. A new customer might not initially notice it. But, guess where Junior goes while daddy is trying on trousers?

They delight when they are unexpected and personalized; they create a great memory when they are creative and unique. My favorite hotel is the Hotel Monaco. On my first visit they offered to put a goldfish in my room in a basketball sized bowl filled with colorful rocks. Care and feeding is done by the housekeeper. All they ask is that I give “my” goldfish a name. But, here is the best part! The next time I showed up to check in the first question asked by the front desk clerk was: “Would you like ‘Matilda’ to stay with you again?”

Innovation is the wellspring of organizational growth today since producing more, faster, better or cheaper is only a table stake in today’s “me too” economy. What can you do to distinctively spice up your service? So, what if you used oregano instead of sage?!!

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group (chipbell.com) and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.


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