At the present, most customers are a bit overwhelmed with choices. Think for a minute. When we want to buy something, go on a trip, stay at a hotel, get a new dog, new barbecue—what do we do? Most of us go online to check out reviews of what others have done and recommend. It doesn’t take long for that sinking feeling to set in as we realize there are just too many choices.
How do you save people from this arduous task? How do you get them think of you and their last interaction with you before surfing out into the land of other possibilities? Easy—just follow the PATH.
My friend Renee was just telling me a story of her recent stay at The Galleria Park Hotel in San Francisco. As she was checking out, the front desk person, Bina, asked her how her visit was and if there was anything they could have done to make it even better. Renee paused as she thought about the black spot on the back of the shirt she was wearing under her jacket. Seeing Renee’s hesitation, Bina said, “Please—share anything.” So Renee said, “Well, I realized too late that the iron I used last night had a black substance on the bottom and it melted onto my shirt. I wasn’t going to mention it as the shirt wasn’t expensive.” Immediately, Bina said, “Oh no! You must have felt just terrible. I’m so sorry. We have to make this right. I’ll take the price of the shirt off your bill at once.” She followed with, “We are so grateful that you stayed here and want you to always think of The Galleria Park Hotel when you come to San Francisco.”
What was the PATH to ensure that Renee will come back to The Galleria Park?
P: For Bina to take charge and make the situation right without checking with anyone meant that she knew her level of authority and autonomy. A clear playing field obviously had been established by hotel management up front. She had been taught what to do, when.
A: Acting in Renee’s best interest meant issuing a refund to pay for a new shirt so she would leave with a smile on her face and in her heart. Bina went the extra mile when she noticed Renee’s hesitation and immediately checked to see what that hesitation meant. Because Bina was able to fix the problem without manager intervention, the issue was handled quickly and efficiently so it didn’t waste a minute of Renee’s precious time.
T: Bina shared gratitude for Renee’s business and reinforced a neural circuit in the brain to “Come back to The Galleria Park Hotel!” Now every time Renee tells this story to someone, the neural pathway is strengthened.
H: Hopefully, Bina or her supervisor huddled with the housekeeping staff afterward to ensure that the problem was taken care of and no future guest would have a similar experience.
The PATH to the door of your organization is filled not only with distractions but also with possibilities. In every company that provides a product or service, our work is to embed in our customers a memory of care, thoughtfulness, and follow-through to ensure their return. By following the PATH, all roads will lead back to your business.
About the author:
Vicki Halsey is a senior consulting partner and one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program.