I travel a lot and spend a considerable amount of time at airports, renting cars and staying the night at hotels.
On one recent trip, I had a tight connection where I hoped and prayed my luggage would make it onto the plane. Well, guess what? No luggage. I was disappointed, but I expected it to happen.
My next move was to rent a car and start toward my client's location. At the terminal, I presented myself at the Enterprise car rental counter. Now, if you are like me, you have reached a point in your life where you just expect poor service. You expect to be treated like a robot, a sub-human or a clod of dirt. I soon found out this customer experience was going to be different.
The interaction began like you'd expect, some nameless guy asking for my credit card and driver's license. Then something unusual happened. The young man stood up, reached over the counter and shook my hand. It wasn't one of those dead fish kind of handshakes, but a real strong, glad-to-meet-you handshake. I almost fell out of my shoes in shock. Wow!
In my entire life, there has never been a car rental person stand up and shake my hand. Most people in other rental agencies could care less if I showed up or not. Well, this young man was amazing. He finished all the paperwork and asked me to sign those blank spaces on the contract; all the while I was trying to compose myself from the handshake experience. For all I know, I could have agreed to rent the car for $2,000 a day. But at that point I didn't care. I was beside myself.
Then he did it again. He stood up, walked around the counter and shook my hand one more time. Then he said, "Mr. Smith, we appreciate your business." I was blown away.
Here is an important fact to remember. A Gallup survey showed a customer who is "emotionally connected" to a place of business is likely to spend 46 percent more money there than a customer who is merely "satisfied" but not emotionally bonded.
Good customer service is expected, but customer loyalty is the goal. No matter what kind of business you manage, customer loyalty is critical. You don't want your customers to be merely "satisfied," you want them to be loyal - to be excited about your business. You want them to come back to you over and over again, not to your competition.