When customer service is exceptional, price is irrelevant.


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PINKLast month while working in Las Vegas, a funny thing happened. I was in my hotel room preparing to speak to a group at The Venetian hotel. I checked the clock and realized I was on in 90 minutes and so, put my laptop in my bag, slipped on my dress shoes, and located a mirror to aid in fastening my tie—the final step before heading down to meet my contact at the meeting room.

Everything was going as planned until I attempted to fasten the collar button on my dress shirt. I tried again and again, but there simply was not enough slack to button the collar. I checked my watch and realized that I had an hour and 25 minutes to sort this out. Knowing that The Venetian and its adjoining sister property, The Palazzo hotel, had numerous men’s clothing stores on premises, I fastened my tie loosely and left my hotel room in search of a collar extender.

My first stop was at HUGO BOSS. There, after I explained to the salesman that I was in need of a collar extender because my collar had shrunk, he said he did not stock them but recommended Andrew’s Ties located near The Palazzo hotel, about a 10-minute walk. Briefcase in hand, I ventured toward The Palazzo shops.

As I approached Andrew’s Ties after many twists and turns through the facility, I thought to myself, “Certainly a tie shop will stock collar extenders.” As I entered the store, I was greeted by a smiling employee standing behind the counter.

“Pardon me,” I asked, “The collar on my dress shirt seems to have shrunk. Would you happen to carry collar extenders?” To my surprise, she said that she did not stock them but I could check with Thomas Pink, a dress shirt retailer located just around the corner. By now it was approaching noon and I was due to speak at The Venetian in about an hour.

I hurried to Thomas Pink, hoping that there would be a salesperson available to assist with my dilemma. As I entered the store, I noticed two employees and no other customers. Since this was really my last chance and failure was not an option, I felt confident that between the three of us we could sort this out.

Making eye contact with the first employee, Sheri, I repeated that my collar had shrunk and I needed a collar extender to secure my collar in order to fasten my tie before my speaking engagement. She shook her head, saying, “I’m sorry but we don’t carry collar extenders.”

Seeing the disappointment on my face, Sheri suggested I consider purchasing a new dress shirt that would allow me to fasten my tie.

“First,” she said, “what is your neck size?”

“Sixteen and a half,” I replied.

Skeptical, Sheri produced her tape measure, suggesting innocently, “Here, let me confirm your neck size—just to be sure.”

She then measured the circumference of my neck, reporting, “Seventeen inches.”

“So my collar didn’t shrink after all?” I questioned as I reflected on my last couple of meals in Las Vegas…

Smiling, Sheri brought me over to the selection of dress shirts with 17-inch collars and chose a lovely blue shirt and pair of fabric cufflinks that complimented my suit and tie. After quickly trying it on, Sheri rung up my purchase while a second employee, Wijdan, collected my shirt and removed the wrinkles using a steam wand.

It was after noon when I emerged from the dressing room in my new shirt with my tie fastened. Sheri quickly secured my cufflinks, complimented me on my appearance, and wished me luck on my presentation.

I arrived at the venue with time to spare, delivered my talk and afterwards, met up with my clients to socialize. After sharing the above story, one of my clients asked, “So, how much was the dress shirt?”

Just then, it occurred to me that I had jammed the receipt into my pocket without bothering to look at it. And this epiphany is at the heart of this blog post.

When customer service is exceptional, price is irrelevant. Sure, I didn’t really have the luxury of time to comparison shop or hunt for the best deal due to my impending speaking engagement. Even so, regardless of my circumstances during my next visit to Las Vegas, I plan to revisit my “friends” Sheri and Wijdan at Thomas Pink and will most certainly purchase another dress shirt.

Customers don’t buy from companies or brands. They buy from the people behind those companies or brands—people like Sheri and Wijdan who recognize that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary really is that little “extra.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


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