I am no stranger to travel ... airports, hotels and the like are all in a day's work. On a recent occasion, I was flying into Las Vegas to present a customer service speech. The client had arranged ground transportation, so I expected to find a driver holding a sign with my name on it at the baggage claim area.
When the plane landed and I turned my cell phone on, I noticed that I had actually received a text message from my driver, Rick Knobloch. The text message said:
Hi Shep. This is Rick, your chauffeur. I'm in the baggage claim area in Terminal One at the bottom of the escalator holding a sign with your name, ready to drive you to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. See you soon. Thanks, Rick.
Rick also included a photo of himself with the text message. I was happy with the personal touch and his proactive approach.
When I came down the escalator into the baggage area, I saw Rick. And apparently, he saw me, too. He started walking toward me. I wondered, «How does he know it's me? Does he know what I look like?»
Actually, he did. Rick told me that he does a Google search on all of his clients. He knew what I looked like, and that's not all. He had used the Internet to learn about what I do for a living and even commented about one of my YouTube videos (which happens to be about a taxi driver). He said that he hoped to be as good as the driver in the video, and I must say he was well on his way. Minutes after dropping me off at my hotel, he texted again to thank me for my business.
There are some lessons that we can learn from this great customer service experience.
As I said earlier, I travel a lot. So I know that what Rick did was not standard protocol for drivers. While it may not have been the first time I have received a text message from a transportation company with directions at the airport, the inclusion of his picture set him apart. Rick said that he came up with the idea to make it easier for clients to find him. And, he also went out of his way to learn a little bit about who he was driving. Both of these are excellent «best practices» that he utilizes for all of his clients.
However, Rick is apparently the only driver in his company to create this great customer service experience for his clients. There is an important lesson here that the entire company should be taking advantage of. Rick's best practices make him stand out, but if all of the drivers followed his example, the entire company would stand out.
I've seen this happen in other businesses as well. One employee does something different, something that makes him or her stand out. Often, customers start asking for that employee by name. Companies need to be aware and observant of situations like this and find out what that employee is doing right and make it part of their standard practice. In the case of the transportation company, for example, the other drivers could be taught to do what Rick does.
I'm sending this article to Rick. I want him to know that I appreciate his efforts to make the customer experience so special, and what's more, I hope he shares it with the management of the transportation company. And if they're smart, they will turn Rick's best practices into standard practice.