Following my latest Business Rocks newsletter this morning, I received this email from Ross. His experience brilliantly supports the idea that it is your ability to ‘surprise’ and ‘delight’ that really develops an emotional attachment from your customers, building their loyalty and support.

Hi Stuart, On a related point, re nice surprises, Annabel and I went to London last weekend, and after 2 great trips there before on lads’ weekends, we booked ourselves in the the hip and trendy Hoxton Hotel. We had the worst night’s sleep ever on the Saturday, because the trouble with being hip and trendy is that you have to work hard to stay that way! The hotel therefore has a DJ on a Friday and Saturday night, banging out tunes for the assembled bearded throng (and that’s just the women) that are there as part of their night out in London, very few of whom are overnight guests. Despite being on the 3rd floor, we could hear it all. So at 3am, I think the music finally stopped, and we got a little shut-eye.

At the desk in the morning, the poor chap asked “how was your stay?” and I told him: “Awful”. His recompense was to offer us a free breakfast, which we politely declined. Instead, I got home, and with my digit poised over the ‘Submit’ button of a scathing TripAdvisor review, I thought I’d give the hotel one last chance to redeem themselves. I emailed the Operations Director, who not only replied within 24 hours (unusual), but without quibble gave me a full refund, an invitation to “reach out to me directly” next time we return to get a favourable rate, and she would personally oversee our stay to ensure everything is perfect.

Sometimes great customer service is about getting it right first time, of course it is. But it is also about doing the right thing when matters take an unexpected course, and you have an unhappy customer (and especially one that is sleep-deprived) and you go above and beyond to put things as right as you can, and the surprise in that can not only retain the customer, but he or she will tell others about it too. That damning TripAdvisor review has not been submitted, instead I’m crafting one which reflects the excellence in customer service when things had gone awry!


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