What if you could delight customers by giving them the star treatment?
Every February or March I settle in to watch the Academy Awards! The people at the Academy spend weeks in preparation, rolling out the carpet, putting up the velvet ropes and hanging drapes to cover the storefronts that typically line the grand staircase. It’s all about making the nominees feel special on the night many of them have been dreaming about all of their lives.
From the moment their limos pull up on the curb, everything focuses on the celebrities. They step out onto the carpet and are greeted by the official Academy Red Carpet Celebrity Greeter, who has spent the entire year getting to know everything about everyone he will be welcoming that evening. He announces their names, and there are 600 fans in bleacher seats who collectively roar in appreciation. (In 2012, much to my delight, I got to be one of those fans!!)
As the celebrities walk the carpet, there are photographers lined up to take their photos and interviewers raving over their accomplishments and asking “Who are you wearing?” and exclaiming “you look ravishing!” There is an atmosphere of excitement and a reverence for the ceremony seen almost nowhere else.
I can’t imagine it would feel as special if the nominees simply parked in a lot, opened the door to the theater, stepped inside and took their seats. No, this occasion is far to significant for such an ordinary arrival.
What about the welcome you give your patrons? Are they getting the impression you are excited to see them or that they are anonymous customers coming through the door.
Delight Customers with an arrival experience fit for George Clooney or Beyonce!
Imagine the bona fide buzz you’d create about your business if you welcomed your customers through the doors as if they were Academy Award nominees. As Garrett Richter, President & CEO of First Florida Integrity Bank once told me, “If you roll out the red carpet for billionaires, they don’t even notice. Millionaire’s expect it. Thousandaires appreciate it and hundredaires run out and tell everyone they know!
Here are 5 Tips to help you Delight Customers with a little Star Treatment!
Be Great with the Greet! I’m borrowing a phrase used by one of our customers, but it applies. Consider yourself the official celebrity greeter, and make it your mission to be awake, alert and ready with a warm smile and a friendly greeting for everyone you encounter throughout the workday! You might make it your mantra to make people happier than they were 10 seconds ago.
Do Your Research. You can delight customers with your excellent preparation. The more you know them, the more impressed they’ll be. When she worked for the Gaylord Opryland Celebrity Services department, concierge Billie Stoops told me about the time His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and other dignitaries from the Greek Orthodox Church visited. She and the rest of the Gaylord STARS (what they call their employees) who would come in contact with them spent hours prior to their visit on research. They knew everything beginning with how to address them, the customary greetings, their dietary requirements, right down to the significance of each ceremonial robe and cane. Billie trained others in the hotel, repeatedly going over each name so all staff members would pronounce them correctly. The result was their trademark flawless service. Billie, who was visibly moved by the experience, remarked “The work we did for those guests reminded me of my purpose. I had a clearer understanding of why I do what I do.”
Give Them Swag. When I asked people who serve celebrities for their definition of star treatment, many people replied with one word. Swag. It isn’t unusual for celebrities to be given expensive gifts by their fans and others. Even at the award ceremonies, nominees and guests walk away with gift baskets filled with swag, expensive gifts, trips, spa certificates and the latest and greatest gadgets on the market. The reason is that when a celebrity is seen wearing or using a product, it creates buzz that money can’t buy. While I realize your customers may not have the same pull, you can still delight customers by incorporating a little swag into your welcome. In fact, with the advent of social media, one little photo and comment about something you gifted to a customer could provide you with free publicity and save you on the cost of advertising.
Put their Name on the Marquee. Delight customers with the creative way you use their name. For instance, McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant is known for printing up special menus with the names of birthday celebrants! Cherish Yourself Spa and Wellness center surprises their VIP customers with their name on a special parking space. Many of our customers put the names of their guests on a welcome sign placed at the front desk! Honestly, you can delight customers by simply learning and using their name each time they arrive.
Take Care of All the Details. Celebrities on the red carpet are escorted by “wranglers” who help them maneuver and take care of logistics and details along the way. Delight customers by thinking of their needs and wants before they ask! When I was involved with the Central Florida chapter of the National Speakers Association, we hosted the national convention a few times. Our chapter became known as exceptional hosts, in part because we thought of all the details. Each national board member was greeted at the airport by one of our chapter members, provided a bottle of water and luggage assistance and driven to the hotel. How could you delight customers by taking care of all the little details?
Once you roll out the red carpet, remember to never let it end! Send your customer off with a warm smile, a sincere thank you for their business and an enthusiastic invitation to come back. You’ll leave them feeling like a star!
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. and she leads a team of customer service experts who help leaders engage their teams to take their employee and customer experience to the next great level. She’s the author of two books on customer service including her Amazon bestseller, 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. Download our 22-page free Engagement Toolkit, which provides you with ideas to engage your teams to improve the customer experience. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This article is excerpted, in part, by Donna’s first book, The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service.