Creating Magnetic Connections with Customers Without Crossing the Line
In this guest post, Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, customer service maven and keynoter, shares her perspective on a guest story from The Ritz-Carlton. Kate is known for her Quick Spot & Adapt™ technique to spot each customer’s personality type for instant magnetic connection.
The most memorable customer experience is one that uniquely touches each customer. It is not routine, robotic or generalized. The challenge is how to make those personal connections with customers without crossing the line and being nosy and intrusive.
Knowing too much information about a customer that they haven’t shared with you first, comes across as intrusive, even creepy. Individualized and customized interactions produce a magnetic connection that tells the customer, “you matter and we care.”
3-Step Path to Magnetic Connections
1. Real-Time Observations.
When you observe customers in real-time, your actions to welcome and help them will come across as genuine without artifice or hidden agenda. Compare this with pre-designed experiences based on big data. It is easy to see how customers would see real-time actions as caring, and hidden efforts as uniform and impersonal.
Moreover, when you focus on customers in real-time, your attention and generous outreach create a magnetic connection. Customers want to know they matter beyond the money they pay you. There is nothing as precious to customers as your full attention and just-in-time help.
It’s magnetic and brings customers back when it:
- Is pleasurable
- Makes them feel wanted as individuals
- Puts them in the glow of your care
- Gives them something they really want
- Prevents or relieves difficulty or pain
- Elevates their day in some way
- Surprises them with something positive they didn’t even know they wanted
2. Questions That Flow From Real-Time Observations.
Companies dedicated to delivering amazing customer experiences want to know as much as possible about their customers. The way to do this is to engage customers in dialogue that springs from real-time observations. The context creates magnetic connections.
The misstep many companies make is bombarding customers with loads of personal questions that have no connection to the current moment. How many of us have been asked for multiple phone numbers, zip code and an email address even before we’ve been given the help we need? Customers feel trapped in the midst of the marketing and upselling that these companies substitute for true customer service.
3. Generosity of Heart.
Generosity of heart activates the magnetic force of positive emotion. Customers’ everyday lives and work are full of demands and stress. Your generous heart rejuvenates and re-energizes them.
For a magnetic connection, give them your:
- Non-procedural attention. Look at them. Smile at them. Welcome them. Help them vs. staring at a computer screen with information about them.
- In-the-moment listening. Respond to what they are saying vs. following a script.
- Empathy. Empathy is the magnetic connection that says, “you matter!” Help them celebrate their good times and alleviate the pain of the bad times.
- Flexibility. Customers want to hear, “You’re the reason we are here. What can we do for you today?” Customers don’t care about your procedures. “The procedure is …” is not a magnetic phrase.
- Innovative solutions. A unique action that hits the mark leaves a lasting memory that brings customers back. It’s magnetic.
- Customized surprises. Actions that show customers you recognize them as individuals and thought to do something special for them are magnetic.
The Magnetic Power of Surprises
A Guest Services Agent at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama was passing by the front door of the hotel when a family arrived for their vacation. The Guest Services Agent greeted the family. The two children, age 5 and 7, were very excited for their vacation and enthusiastically showed the Guest Services Agent their suitcases that were covered in stickers from the movie Cars.
While the Guest Services Agent assisted the family through the check-in process, the father asked if they could rent a golf cart during their stay so they could move around the resort more easily. Unfortunately, all of the carts were already rented out, but he assured the guest that the next returned cart would be his. Luckily, two days later a cart became available, and the Guest Services Agent decided to do something special for the children. He bought some packs of stickers from the Cars movie and placed them all over the cart.
The children were ecstatic when the Guest Services Agent showed them the decorated cart—which he told them was their “car” for the trip.
While the Guest Services Agent was glad he was able to give the children a fun surprise, he did not stop there. The family’s vacation occurred during the “Día de Reyes” celebration, a holiday in Spain where children traditionally receive gifts from the Three Wise Men and eat the famous pastry “Roscon de Reyes.” To celebrate the day, the Guest Services Agent personally delivered presents for the children and offered the parents a special homemade Roscon de Reyes cake to experience the Spanish tradition. The parents were very appreciative of all that the Guest Services Agent did for their family during their stay. Not only did he keep their children happy and entertained, he helped the parents relax and enjoy their time away from home.
Magnetic Connections Create Lasting Memories
This Guest Services Agent created a magnetic connection with these customers from the first moment. He observed their Cars stickers. He connected his real-time observation to their request for a golf cart. He surprised them in unique ways that said “you matter!” It was authentic. It was real. It showed generosity of heart. He enhanced the guest experience far beyond a stay in a beautiful hotel. His magnetic connection created a lasting memory.
Always remember that consistency doesn’t mean uniformity. Consistently great service requires delivering a unique experience to each customer—not a standardized experience to all customers. Quickly spot customers’ needs and adapt! ∞
Join us for a one-day symposium, “An Introduction to Service Excellence,” on October 13, 2016, and hear about the strategies and concepts that produce a sustainable culture of service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton.