One of my favorites places in my community is a locally-owned bagel and coffee shop, Bentley's Bagels & Brew. They left an incredible first impression on my wife and me, and I have told numerous people about this first impression (now it's 1,000's). When I first visited Bentley's, I had just moved into the area and just recently married. Somehow, the owner could tell that my wife and I were new to the area and newlyweds. He was extremely friendly, and pointed out this observation. I'm not sure if it was the fresh paint splatters on my shirt or my new habit of adjusting my shiny new wedding ring, but he was absolutely correct. He introduced himself and asked us to call him by his first name, Henry. My wife and I knew we had found our new breakfast place before we had ordered by his attentiveness and true interest in us as part of the community, not just customers.
So, we ordered some breakfast bagel sandwiches, sat down, and began to eat. It's not a big dining room, and the owner called us across the room and asked us if we liked cinnamon. We replied that we did and he brought over one of his famous cinnamon muffins for us. How told us it was on him and welcomed us to the neighborhood. Wow! Great food and even better service.
Henry understood a basic concept of customer service and creating a fantastic experience for his guests: "Over Deliver and Exceed Expectations." As always, it's easier said than done, but think about where some small things in your business can really create an emotional impact on your guests. In Henry's case, it was as simple as a fresh muffin to a new customer.
In The Referral Engine by John Jantsch, Jantsch gives us the following piece of advice: "When you make this unexpected gift to your client, you create a great opportunity to communicate the value of all of the services you provide, including this add-on.... In some instances companies have created a simple way to exceed expectations, and that simple thing became a key point of differentiation.... This point of difference exceeded people's expectations so significantly that it's now been the basis of [their] advertising." Truth be told, Henry's breakfast was good, but not enough for me to write a blog about. But, he totally surpassed my expectations, and that truly differentiated him. For that, I'm a raving fan.
So, what are you doing in your business? You don't necessarily need to give anything away for free, just add more value or over-deliver to each guest situation every time (or almost every time). This could be as simple as smile on a rainy day or a hand-written thank you card as the end of your services. You'll find this is a great way to create buzz around your business and get your guests referring others. (Remember, now is also a great time to ask your guests to refer others as well!)
So, what are you doing to exceed expectations at your restaurant and hospitality business? Or, when is an example of a business exceeding your expectations? Share your ideas!