Being in the service industry for my day job (patent & trademark attorney) and night job (Gwin’s Lodge owner), I am especially interested in how some businesses excel at providing exceptional service. So when I came across this book, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon, I devoured it in one sitting.
The book talked about “reactive service” versus “anticipatory service.” We typically get reactive service – ask at the counter for napkins and ketchup, and the server gives us what we asked for. But anticipatory service means putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to anticipate their needs and desires. The example in the book describes a maintenance man up on a ladder replacing a light bulb, when a guest walks by with her hands full toward a heavy door. The maintenance man, well-trained in anticipatory service, comes down the ladder, beats the guest to the door, and opens the door for her. No one asked him to do this, but he anticipates the needs of the guest, and does it without being asked. Needless to say, this concept went into our employee handbook.
Another takeaway from the book is the importance of the vocabulary and language used when interfacing with guests and customers. The book calls this “language engineering.” The example of Ritz Carlton was given. Ritz Carlton trained its employees to use a set of ideal phrases when speaking to guests, like “My pleasure,” “Right away,” “Certainly,” and “We’re fully committed tonight.” This prompted me to put Into our employee handbook a table of do’s and don’ts in how to interact with customers in various situations.
Of course, none of this should feel forced. The number one most important way to provide exceptional service is to hire the right people and give them the right motivation. Employees who like people, who are naturally upbeat, who have a natural desire to please, and who are motivated to do so are the most important ingredient for exceptional service. We are picky about the people we hire because we care!