The Personal Touch

Years ago I made it a habit to go out of my way to ensure that I received excellent service from the many different companies I did business with. I would settle for nothing less.

Columns From: 9/1/2001 Modern Machine Shop,

Years ago I made it a habit to go out of my way to ensure that I received excellent service from the many different companies I did business with. I would settle for nothing less. I did this by providing an unexpected personal touch that recognized the excellent service I received. I made a big deal out of the smallest kindness. Now I never stand in line at my favorite restaurants, wait interminably for my car to be serviced or slumber in my doctor or dentist’s lounge area. I even fly first-class with a coach ticket, get my rental car upgraded and my hotel room switched to a suite at no extra charge. I’m a lucky (and thankful) guy. In the whirlwind of today’s business climate, the manager needs to recognize even the most trivial and marginal thoughtfulness.

What’s my secret? I don’t pay people off. I don’t bribe them. I don’t know all the owners personally. I’m not a big shot. I don’t even grease anyone’s palm to get the table by the window. I’m not a showoff. I don’t shoot my mouth off. I don’t blow my own horn.

Here’s my secret: I’m simply a nice guy who befriends managers and workers by calling them by their first names and writing notes to their managers and bosses when they provide me with excellent service. Writing a note is the most important part. Nobody forgets my name when I do that—ever!

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to practice the element of surprise either. Just the other day I brought a large cheese pizza to my auto mechanic’s shop at noon. I didn’t need my car serviced that day, so my small gift wasn’t tied to my request for service. And that’s the surprise! My mechanic tells me that he and his team know I really appreciate them as workers and, most importantly, “as plain old people.” My mechanics are my friends, and they keep on giving me extraordinary service and even their home phone numbers “just in case something happens after hours.” I’m a lucky (and thankful) guy.

My former business partner, Sean Joyce, is a master at getting excellent service, not to mention many more job leads in his consulting work. He taught himself magic tricks, which he uses to “wow” clients and to make his presentations all the more entertaining and remembered. Sean has been rewarded with first-class seats for simply performing one card trick for the gate agents. Maître d’s of fancy restaurants send him expensive bottles of wine “on the house” for providing monkeyshines and shenanigans, practical jokes and “mind-games.” Agents, salespersons, merchants, vendors, managers and CEOs give him complimentary products, upgrades and extras of all sorts. He never requests excellent service, they just give it to him for being a nice guy who took the time to momentarily provide a diversion in their busy days. He writes thank-you notes, too. They never forget his name. Sean’s a lucky (and thoughtful) guy. You can be one too.

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