This blog post came from reflecting on a terrific vacation. The lessons are relevant for all who aim to deliver or enjoy receiving excellent service.
Sandy and I just returned from a marvelous tour of Athens and the Greek Islands. We didn’t take a vacation during our first 20 years of marriage. In our last 20 years we’ve done international group trips to Africa, Bahamas, England, Europe, Galapagos, Ireland, Israel and Mexico. This was one of the best, thanks to Mark and Vicki at Stewart Tours.
Because I reflect on many experiences, I realized our team and many other professionals could benefit from what I was seeing. I thought about how our award-winning team could even better. Maybe you’ll be able to gain some insight that will help your clients or customers. After a generation in apartment brokerage, I’ve learned that the basics stay the same, but every escrow is unique.
Our team has no control over the outcome. We can guide and guard our clients and help them adjust their expectations when bits of reality surprise them. We must be sensitive to our client’s concern for privacy. And we need to assure service providers we are capable and fiscally responsible. Those seemed a lot like the challenges our tour guide faced and met so well.
Sandy and I made enough trips that we realized what an extraordinary experience we were having. Here’s what I learned by watching the people who made it happen and reflecting on our other tour experiences.
Luck Plays a Role
There are things that no one controls. Bad weather and political unrest are two. And you never know who will be in your group. We’ve been on trips where 90% of the group was one political tribe and 10% was the other political tribe. It wasn’t comfortable.
This time, the stars aligned for us. One of the unexpected delights was that the tour guide had so many repeat clients. 85% of the group traveled with this husband and wife before. Some travelers had been on 10 trips with the firm. Many other travelers had vacationed together.
It was like going to a cousin’s reunion. People enjoyed themselves. They helped each other, empathized with the rookies (us), looked out for each other. They enabled others to maximize the benefits that each household sought.
Craft is Essential
Giving people a great experience isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work that no one sees and hardly anyone even knows about. The team that guided us had set up relationships, vetted guides, hotels, cruise lines, transportation companies, insurance providers and more. Unknown to most of the guests, the leader had made over 20 email and phone contacts for each day of travel.
Our guides had decades of experience and deep knowledge of the territory. They made it possible for us to have a safe, easy, and thoroughly enjoyable trip. During the entire process, their expertise was obvious.
Our guide was willing to be assertive and innovative to help his clients have the best possible experience. He used his knowledge and the leverage of past and future clientele to ensure current travelers obtained superior value. He respected his affluent clientele’s options and privacy. Somehow, we were consistently in front of the people and places we would most like to see and/or get to know better. He managed the care and feeding of a group which had varied experience and expectations and did it well
Caring Makes the Experience Great
We’ve been on trips where the operator deceived travelers about the difficulty and risk involved. Some clients wasted precious weeks and thousands of dollars. We’ve experienced a leader so focused on himself or the service providers that he forgot who the client was and what the client’s objectives were. Not on this trip.
At the end of each day the guides asked for our feedback on how things went and what we would like. They showed us in many small ways that they cared about us and our experience.
Caring is many small things. It’s paying attention, spotting challenges and opportunities. It’s asking how the day went, listening to the response, and acting on it
Great experiences are more than craft can provide. Great experiences require caring. We knew that our guides cared. And our clients, and yours, can tell if we care.
Since the trip, I’ve received service from commercial, legal and medical professionals. Some rendered mediocre service with bored disinterest. The rare few sought excellence and showed that they cared about the person they served. Those experiences were delightful.
Great service for a tour guide or a surgeon or a fabulous attorney or a great broker involves focusing on the client’s success. Being an expert is the opening ante. Non-experts are not even admitted into the champion circle. The stars understand their gifts and talents are only important to the extent that they help others. My hope and prayer for you is that you encounter professionals who seek excellence . . . professionals focused on your success.
What about you? Other than excellent craftsmanship, what matters to you in selecting a service provider?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.“