Customer Experience: how two staff in a wine bar left me feeling great and grateful

After a long week we find ourselves at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport

It had been a long week, a week full of interviews, workshops, dinners, fellowship and travel from one site to another in Texas.  I found myself at the Dallas/Fort Worth international airport on a Friday afternoon with my colleague.  As there was some time before we would be boarding our flight back to the UK, we found a wine bar where we could sit, talk and drink some wine, together.

We ordered our wine and a friendly lady took our order and promptly returned with two glasses of wine.  Immersed in conversation, with the glass almost full, I found that I knocked over the glass.  The wine glass shattered and the wine poured onto the table and made its way to the floor.  Suddenly, I found myself self-conscious and embarrassed.

An angel shows up and leaves me relaxed and at ease, soaked in humanity

One of the employees noticed our plight and came over to clean up the mess.  She occurred as relaxed and helpful as if she had witnessed this kind of event many times.  As she was cleaning up she talked to me and assured me that there was nothing wrong, that I had done nothing wrong, that the glasses shattered easily.  And I was not the first person to knock over a wine glass.

I found myself delighted and grateful with this fellow human being.  And I told her that.  Specifically, I thanked her for recognising my embarrassment and putting her humanity into the encounter and thus easing my tension and leaving me relaxed.  She got my thanks and I got she got my thanks – we both smiled at each other.

With our humanity in action and rapport established we found ourselves sharing our personal selves.  She told me about her concerns/troubles like one of her parents being affected by Alzheimer’s disease.  And what that brought with it given that she is the daughter.  I found myself  being touched  by her humanity and reciprocated by telling her about my mother and how she is slowly losing her memory….. Then the time came for us to part company – each thanking the other, each grateful for the humanity the other put into the encounter.  I know that to this day I think of that lady and wish her the very best.

Service does not get better than this

With the cleaning up done, the lady that had served us the wine came to the table and brought me another glass.     She placed it on the table, smiled, and told me that it was on the house.  Both surprise and gratitude were present for me and I found myself smiling and thanking her.

Nothing beats the human touch that touches the heart and leaves the customer feeling grateful

It occurs to me that in our data/technology/process obsessed culture we miss the importance of the people who work in the business and make the business work.  Yes, it is the people that make the business what it is. And determine how the business shows up in the experience of the customers.  Yet, customers also have a role to play.  How customers treat the staff in the business and how the staff in the business treat customers makes such a huge difference.

If you want to generate customer advocacy then ..

I say that if you want to excel in generating customer advocacy then you have to excel at generating surprise, delight and/or gratitude.  And the most effective way to do that is to have in place staff that delight in / excel at dealing with customers.  Staff who have that human touch.  My friend Richard Shapiro calls these folks ‘Welcomers’ and has written a book on it: The Welcomer Edge.

And finally

If you happen to be in the International Airport (Terminal D) then pay a visit to The Bodega Winery.  Say hi to them for me – let the staff know that they have a grateful customer who remembers their generosity, their kindness, the humanity.   Tell them I wish them the very best and hope that one day our paths will cross again.

I thank you for your listening; it is your listening that makes my speaking worthwhile; it is your listening that provides the motivational fuel that results in that which shows up here at The Customer Blog.  I wish you a great weekend.  I wish you a great week.  I wish you great living.  And I say, go out and touch a life!  And if you are in business then touch your customer’s lives – that is how you generate advocacy.

Posted on October 26, 2012, in Case Studies, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Social and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Great post, Maz. Your story goes to the heart of how valuable being authentic is to the giver and givee.

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    • Hello Dave

      Great to hear your voice, I hope that you and your folks at TeamSnap are doing great.

      Once again I find myself in agreement with you. The power of authentic humanity in action cannot be surpassed. It touches in a way that we cannot comprehend.

      I wish you well, be great.

      At your service and with my love
      Maz

      Like

  2. I agree completely about the importance of people in providing outstanding customer experiences. Organisations need to consider people, processes and technology. The other point is that whilst there may have been no obvious or immediate gain to the wine bar in delivering such outstanding service, the power of social media will help ensure that there is the possibility of increased business. Well done for publicising it! Another great post Maz. Thanks

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    • Hello Nick

      Great to hear your voice again, I hope that you are well.

      I find myself in agreement with you in that the whole package (people, process, technology, business model, leadership, culture…) has to work together for it to work out.

      As for what you imply I cannot say. What I can say is that the people I came across occurred as natural. It did not occur to me that anything was contrived. Yes, I have written about them and there are no guarantees. What makes goodness good is the goodness itself. If goodness shows up as calculation, and the customer becomes aware of it, then the goodness shows up as mere self orientation. This is a profound point and one missed by the ‘selfish gene’ mindset.

      All the best
      Maz

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  3. Such a great example of excellent service. The human experience is needed to make a real connection. I just found your blog. I look forward reading more.

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    • Hello Holly
      Welcome, and thank you sharing your perspective. Am looking forward to hearing your voice here at The Customer Blog.

      At your service and with my love
      Maz

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  4. Hi Maz,
    Great story and shows that when someone puts their heart into their work it lights up a room and touches everyone. I’m sure that it wasn’t just you that noticed the service you were given by that lady and that her actions have lead to much more advocacy than just yours.

    Adrian

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    • Hello Adrian
      I find myself in agreement with you and share this quote that is attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson:

      “If a man loves the labour of his trade, apart from any question of success or fame, the gods have called him.”

      Maz

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  5. Maz, as I was starting to read your story, not only was I touched, but I was also thinking along the way,…. that the lovely lady that made you feel so comfortable, was definitely a welcomer. And, then to my surprise, you referred your loyal fans to my new book. I will be sure to visit the wine bar on my next trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. It is definitely these special folks that know that making the customer feel welcomed, important, appreciated, valued and comfortable are the ultimate customer service goals. Take care, Rich

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    • Hello Richard, great to hear your voice once again on The Customer Blog. It occurs to me that you and I see/relate to the world in a similar manner. So when this lady showed up in my life I thought about you, your Welcomer concept, and your book. All the best. Be great. Maz

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  6. It strikes me that all a business is is a collection of people an processes. It those processes make it easy for people to provide great service then they can and will, where as if they don’t they can’t and won’t.

    I one read that “a bad process will beat a good person every time”. The two (the people and the process) have to go hand in hand if you want to have great service.

    Next time I am in Dallas I promise to visit the wine bar and report back.

    James

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    • Hello James
      Yes, I can see the truth of the “bad process will beat a good person every time”. Thanks for introducing that in the conversation. I wonder whether we should add Policy to the mix. If the Policy had been to make the person who broke the glass pay for the glass then my experience would have been different to that which was the experience.

      And then I wonder, how it is that formulates the policies and processes, communicates these policies and processes, and ultimately monitors/controls the application of these policies and processes. Out pops the thought: People. Think about Apple and John Bowett – the ex. Diixons chief who has just be shown the door because he sought to move Apple store staff from the policy/practice of customer service to that of selling. Here is the link if it interests you:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/former-dixons-executive-john-browett-shown-the-door-at-apple-8262120.html

      Be well and many thanks for entering into a conversation with me.

      Maz

      Like

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