Exceptional Customer Service Is More Than Please and Thank You

by Joanne Steele on April 26, 2011

As I’ve traveled around Arkansas, US, giving internet marketing trainings, I’ve experienced or learned about examples of exceptional customer service that provide lessons for small towns and businesses everywhere.

skein of alpaca wool

Meet Masterpiece Toffe Royale

Let me introduce you to the Moseby’s of Edge of Eden Alpacas

During the training in Van Buren, I met Frances and F.E and their family. They’re in the process of expanding their marketing onto the internet.

They know and understand their Perfect Customer. They are growing alpacas and processing the wool for weavers, spinners and knitters who not only want the highest quality product possible. They want to know that the animals have a happy life and are well cared for.

The Moseby’s could take the easy route and just say in their promotional materials, “Our animals are well cared for and have a happy life.”

But who really believes that without proof. Frances and F.E. understand that creating loyal customers who will return again and again for their wool requires that they exactly, perfectly meet those customers’ needs – in this case assurance that those animals are well cared for and have a happy life.

So, Frances has the wool spun separately for each animal. The animals name (yes, each has a name and a close personal relationship with the Mosebys) appears on each label, along with their picture and a short biography.

That’s exceptional customer service – understanding needs and going to exceptional lengths to serve them.

Meet Linda Hixson, Executive Director of the Paris, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.

Linda is smart, and understands the opportunity associated with her town’s name.

She could take the Las Vegas route and create a bunch of silly Paris replicas in her town. But Linda understands that what people want is the EXPERIENCE of Paris, whether it’s Paris, France or Paris, Arkansas.

Linda has created a bus tour, currently focused on retired schoolteachers. She has rallied the town to provide a personalized “Paris” experience for these ladies, who for various reasons, will probably never make it to Paris, France.

She costumes up, brings in the high school choir for entertainment, arranges for appropriate meals, and gives those women as memorable an experience as they would have in France… without the long trip and huge expense.

And, according to Linda, there is more demand for these trips than she can fulfill. It’s working! And the question I ask in the training, “Do you need a million visitors to be successful?” is answered with a resolute “NO!”

Success in tiny little Paris, Arkansas can be measured one more busload of retired school teachers going to Paris at a time.

Finally, meet Kenesha, barista at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas

This is a story of exceptional customer service more in line with our traditional understanding of the concept.

We drove into Hot Springs too early to have a much anticipated soak in one of their famous baths.  It was time for a second cuppa, so we headed for the famous Arlington Hotel, looking for a coffee shop.

We got a great cup of coffee and so much more. Kenesha, a resident of the town for only four years, could answer every question we had about the town.

She knew the history, the major attractions, the little special spots that don’t make it into visitor guides, and places to go to get answers to questions she couldn’t answer.

When we asked for recommendations, she automatically gave us two choices – one related to her place of employment and another possibility.

This young woman is worth her weight in gold, both to the Arlington and to the town.

Traditional customer training efforts seldom have much effect on overall service in a town, but I bet if a small town took steps to honor the work of frontline people like Kenesha, more good customer service would result.

It would be a matter of publically honoring and somehow rewarding her exceptional work, clearly outlining why it was exceptional so others could copy it, and making it known that townspeople are searching for more great, positive examples of guests being well cared for. So simple, so doable, so powerful.

Arkansas is a beautiful state with many examples of guests being well cared for – I just don’t have room her to share them all.

Is something exceptional happening in your neck of the woods?

Here are some past posts on the customer service topics… enjoy!

Loyal Repeat Customers: A Result of Focused, Superb Customer Service

Customer Service Training by the Customers Themselves

Are You Taking Your Most Loyal Customers For Granted?


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