Turning “Beer” Service into a “Champagne” Experience

Sprinkles CoverNote: Today’s post is brought to you by Chip Bell.

I walked into the restaurant off the lobby of the Park Inn west of Harrisburg, PA. From the back of the restaurant I heard, “Good morning, how would you like your coffee?” When I said black, the voice warmly responded, “Take any table you like, and I’ll have your coffee there before you can sit down!”

My day was off to a captivating start, like a colorful merry-go-round!

“I’m Sandy. Do I get the awesome pleasure of serving you today?” she asked as she laid my menu beside the cup of coffee she had already poured. The breakfast was perfect and served quickly. Periodically Sandy checked to make sure all was well. There was no chitchat as I focused on my morning paper, just attentiveness and, lots of smiles aimed point blank at my table. I finished, folded up my newspaper, and requested my check. It had been a joy to be served by someone noticeably passionate about customers. And then, it happened!

Sandy brought my check along with a go cup of black coffee! “This is great!” I exclaimed. “You have no idea how much I needed a coffee to go today.” Sandy smiled, winked and responded, “It’s our gift to you!”

Folks, it does not get any better than that! I left her a tip almost as big as my breakfast tab and went straight to the manager on duty to compliment her over-the-top, high-spirited service. “I’m so delighted,” he said, “but, I will tell you we get comments about Sandy almost every day. In fact we have guests who tell us they drive way out of their way just get a shot of Sandy in the morning!”

What makes a great cookie or cupcake really special? Sprinkles. It is the same with customer service. We may come back for great service but we tell stories when something distinctive and special is added to the experience. And, as organizations run out of room on their capacity to add more value in a quest to exceed customer expectations, value-unique provides unlimited opportunities for customer enchantment.

My business partner and I were working with a client in Nicaragua. One evening we elected to skip the hotel grill and try the hotel’s upscale restaurant—Factory Steak and Lobster. We were in for a special treat. I ordered my usual Jack Daniels on the rocks. Now, in every restaurant in America such a request would yield a highball glass brought to the table already filled with ice plus the special adult beverage ready to drink. Because of that practice, I have gotten Jack poorly disguised as cheap bourbon as well as drink the bartender apparently measured with a thimble instead of a jigger.

But at the Real Metrocentro InterContinental in Managua, I was not served Jack Daniels, it was presented to me! The waiter brought a tray containing a full bottle of Jack, an empty chilled glass, a container of ice, and a tall shot glass. The glass was then filled with ice—one cube at a time–and placed before me. The bottle was presented much like a wine steward might present a chosen bottle of wine. Assuming approval, the Tennessee whiskey was poured into the shot glass which was then lovingly poured into the ice-filled highball glass! A simple shot of whiskey was treated like pricey Dom Perignon champagne.

What if service providers made the mundane magical? What if every service moment was treated as an extraordinary event for a cherished customer? The check-in hotel clerk would come from behind the desk to give you your room key along with a warm handshake, the taxi driver would take your luggage all the way into the hotel lobby, and the service tech would explain your auto repair kneeling eye level with you as you sat comfortably in the reception area.   Customers are not interested in being treated as royalty served by a slave. But, they do notice when the service they receive clearly indicates they are treasured. Customer growth comes from special care. If you want something to grow, pour champagne on it!


Chip R. Bell is a renowned speaker and the author of several best-selling books. His newest book is Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com.

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