I especially enjoy the US & for many reasons. I really love the approach in the US to customer service; Real Professional Customer Service! On a recent trip to Hawaii we had the chance to experience pretty much both ends of that customer service spectrum; the oh so amazingly helpful Marie and …. the not so helpful… whoever she was!
We touched down at just after 6am after flying overnight from Sydney and were really fortunate to be able to check in to our hotel earlier than the scheduled 3pm. We dumped our bags, changed our clothes and headed straight to the famous Waikiki beach.
We’re beach people and as we stood scanning the waves and taking in the famous beach scene we were approached by a woman asking if we wanted to go out on the catamaran for a one hour cruise.
“We’re just getting oriented for now, maybe later.” I said. Noticing she was drinking a coffee I asked her “Is that coffee you’re drinking any good?”
“This is the best coffee in Waikiki, just go on over the road and see Tai at Tai Kona right there in the Hyatt and tell him Marie sent you and he’ll take real good care of you. Tai has the best coffee in Waikiki”
Marie, a New Yorker who spends a few months every year on the beach at Waikiki selling the Catamaran cruises, is one of those friendly people who manages to find connection points really quickly. In just a few short minutes of conversation Marie told us:
- about the map showing the names of the different surfing spots along this stretch of the beach
- where we could buy a great hamburger
- the location of the nearest public toilets
- to check out a particularly interesting history of surfing that is housed in the upstairs lobby of the Moana Surfrider hotel and
- the secret location of a lovely lounge also in the Moana Surfrider, with very comfortable chairs that hardly anyone goes to and it has a peaceful outlook
- where to catch the bus to Ala Moana, the popular shopping mall
- how to ask for a “transfer ticket” so that would save us money
Have you heard of the Seven Eleven Concept? Not the 24 hour convenience store. Rather the concept that suggests that customers needs 7 hours of contact of 11 touch points in order to create connection with you.
In a few short minutes Marie was well on her way to creating solid connection with us.
We headed across the road for a coffee; which was an OK coffee in that “coffee chain in the US” kind of way. The service staff were very friendly and helpful.
Over the next few days as we explored Waikiki we took advantage of Marie’s information and suggestions and while we only spent a few minutes with her at the beach that first day by the time we had tried all her “tips” we had in fact spent almost 7 hours with her. As we ate that delicious hamburger: “Thanks Marie for telling us about this”. As we lounged in the very comfy chairs in the Moana Surfrider “Thanks Marie” You get the drift.
Did we tell others about Marie? You bet we did and passed on her Waikiki tips.
On our last day we returned to Marie to take the cruise and while she may not have quite remembered us, she certainly gave the impression that she did. Marie is a rare breed of customer service professional. Over the week we were there I watched her walk about that beach connecting with people and chatting, probably giving them similar information. Adding value to each and every visitors experience at Waikiki.
It’s so easy for Marie to add value and it is easy for the casual observer to believe that by being helpful she is building connection and trust quickly with the intention of encouraging people to take her catamaran cruises. I truly believe that Marie is a naturally helpful person and I’m inspired by her generosity.
In total contrast we experienced rather unhelpful behavior at a well known café. So much so that I almost laughed out loud as each interaction became even more hilariously inappropriate.
I’m tempted to tell the “he said” “she said” detail. Suffice to say that it was like being in comedy festival with each participant trying to outdo the other.
As I sat at the coffee bench I overheard one of the service staff who was clearly frustrated by trying to input a simple coffee order into the register
“Oh it’s alright for Dan, he works here every day. I only have a couple of shifts a week. I cannot possibly be expected to remember how to use this system”
Really? He cannot possible be expected to remember the system?
For me the piece de resistance was when I heard a customer ask curiously:
“How long have you been open?” (A natural question)
Totally uninterested young female wait staff at the counter:
“What used to be here?”
“I have no idea” accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll.
The customer wandered off.
I was curious “Do you get asked that question often? What used to be here?”
“Oh Yes, All The Time” eye roll
Really? and it never occurred to you to find out the answer …. Oh Marie, could you teach these people a thing or 2 about being helpful and customer focus.