Last summer we went to Manali on a holiday. Manali is a beautiful and romantic hill station in Himalayan Range. We experienced the real life by staying in an authentic Himachali hotel equipped with all the traditional facilities.
During our four days stay with a single purpose to enjoy the time and life of freedom from work, we were too busy in exploring things around. We got many new friends over there. Some of them were good and some were so-so.
Connecting with Customers
The day started. On the first day, after having breakfast in the super chilly cold morning, we went to the nearby coffee shop being run by few men – somewhere from north India (later on we figured out it as Lucknow). While coffee was getting ready, the boy on the cash desk got friendly & asked us few general questions in a little friendly but professional way, made some recommendations about where to go, what to see, what not to do, where to save money while travelling etc. Not bad you’d say. On last day when I visited them, the second time, the man behind the counter recognized me and engaged me in a conversation on the reason how was the tour in last two days etc. I told him about the experience so far and he suggested few new places near that we could visit in an hour or so. Also, he discussed many things that we actually needed someone to tell us or we needed to know but had no idea. All he made the chat interesting and entertain in 5 min. After bidding goodbye, when I was out of the coffee shop, I was happy and I had a smile on my face.
Ah well you may say, small cafes recognize their customers as individuals and can spend time building a relationship.
Proactive help – Real Customer Service
During this same holiday we were also traveling by bus and private taxies. I got a family in Manali and we became friend. I was standing at a counter to buy 5 tickets for us for our trip. When my turn came to buy tickets, I said ‘3 adults and 2 children’. The man behind the counter asked ‘ Will you be traveling together?’ . ‘Yes’ I replied. ‘Then what you should buy is the family ticket. It is much cheaper and gets you 3 adults and 2 children’. I was quite surprised with the attitude. Here was an employee of a large organization who was willing to ‘lose revenues’ by being honest. If we’d bought the 5 tickets as individuals we’d have been none the wiser. But the fact that someone is willing to ‘help’ with no ulterior motive save the need to do the right thing, leaves an extremely favorable impression.
Lots of brands now seem to be defining themselves as being in the service business. So they are looking beyond being in the product business. And that is great as building consumer relationships are vital to the long term success of brands. Customer Services is the new marketing.