It was a small gesture…yet it made all the difference in the world.
My wife and I decided to take our two kids, age 13 and 11 to Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells a couple weeks ago. It’s advertised as “America’s Largest Waterpark”. It has 49 thrilling water rides, two giant wave pools, two endless rivers, four children’s water play areas, miniature golf, a 4D theater and live shows. It truly is fun for the entire family.
Even though the weather was gorgeous and we were visiting in the middle of peak season, we didn’t find the crowd unbearable at all. Even the line on the newest attraction, the Scorpions Tail, took less than 20 minutes. The parking is free, they have plenty of lounge chairs to rest on and they even let you bring a cooler of food to eat at designated picnic areas close to the parking lot. The park itself was well maintained and spotless!
The only complaint I could come up with were the attitudes of the life guards. They seemed rather robotic and excuse the term…”guarded”. They are mostly high school and college kids, working for minimum wage, and working 7 days a week, 10 hours a day. It can get rather monotonous and they are obviously more worried about getting people in and out of the rides safely than by creating small talk. You also have to consider that the majority of the lifeguards were from foreign countries and probably weren’t confident with their English.
Things changed drastically when the family headed to the Bahama Falls rafting ride in the late afternoon. When we got to the front of the line we were greeted by a young man who was smiling ear to ear. He was a Russian college student by the name of Vladislav Fedorov. He was quite engaging in his broken accent asking us if we were enjoying our time at the park and asking the kids what their favorite ride so far was. He then warned us to hold on tight as he gave us a big push. My kids couldn’t stop talking about him for 15 minutes! I went to one of the managers to let him know how much my family appreciated Vladislav’s friendliness. “Oh yeah”, said the manager, “that’s good old Vlady. He’s a keeper! We get positive comments about him at least twice a day.”
Vlady’s customer service attitude reminded me of what Scott McKain calls the “Ultimate Customer Experience” in his book Collapse of Distinction.
McKain goes into detail on how they treat you on a Singapore Airlines flight. On every first class flight, they will take your suit jacket and hang it up. The flight attendant doesn’t return your jacket until immediately after the flight has landed. She waits until he had stood up from his seat, then helped him put the jacket on. Other flight attendants did the same with every other passenger with a jacket.
It was a small, tiny gesture — that made a big impact. It was personal…not corporate. It was intimate…not mass appeal.
McKain also writes about the practice at Les Schwab Tires. When you pull in their parking lot, they RUN to your car to serve you. It’s created an amazingly successful business — even though the tires they sell are IDENTICAL to their competition — because of their “sudden service.”
Being personable before heading off on a water slide, helping you with your jacket…running to your car…are essential elements of the Ultimate Customer Experience®…yet, they do not cost the company anything in terms of execution.
Yet, as McKain points out, most organizations will seek to buy more ads, invest in more intensive marketing, or some other scheme to persuade people to come back and do more business.
What little, no cost, step could YOU and your organization take that would cost you practically no money… make a big difference with customers…and ultimately help you stand out from your competition.
Director of Business Development