It might have been an insurance agent who calls a lonely widow just to say hello; a cell phone dealer who loans his own phone to a tradesman; or a pharmacist who delivers a prescription to a sick pensioner after hours. In each of these true examples, repeat business flowed to those who did that little bit extra. By helping others, we help ourselves.
When I started speaking professionally, I believed I could make money and make a difference. However, like most burgeoning business owners, I was occasionally plagued with doubt. Once was after a long flight, when I arrived with no voice, to address 400 realtors the next morning. (an occupational hazard indeed!)
At hotel check-in, the receptionist started her standard greeting, outlining the magnificent facilities but I cut her short with a whisper, to say that I simply wanted to get to my room immediately. I promptly unpacked, showered and curled up in bed, feeling somewhat sorry for myself away from home, when I heard an unexpected knock at the door.
I croakily informed him that I hadn't ordered room service.
"Yes, Ms DeVrye, we know you haven't ordered room service but we also know you're not feeling well, so have brought some hot lemon and honey with our compliments."
Sure enough, on a silver tray, was exactly what I would have wanted if I'd been home. In addition, there was a hand written note from the chef offering to make chicken soup and another note from the concierge, with some vitamin C tablets and an offer to obtain any additional medication from the drugstore in town.
As someone who spends over 80 nights per year in 5 star hotels, I know that sort of service isn't standard, nor in anyone's job description. The receptionist put herself in my shoes and coordinated others to deliver outstanding service. I felt better already and naturally, any traveller would remember that experience long after they'd forgotten the marble in the foyer!
My voice marginally restored the next day, I addressed the realtors and used this real time example of going that extra mile to truly care about the customer. I'd arranged for the receptionist to attend the presentation and later at check-out, she said she felt somewhat stunned by the spontaneous applause from the audience.
"Just to know that you felt better, made me feel better about my day. I didn't expect any thanks." By doing that little extra, she gained extra satisfaction for herself.
I'm pleased to report that the real estate company adopted "Hot Lemon & Honey' service as their annual theme, achieving record profits that year. Subsequently, ‘Hot Lemon & Honey...Reflections For Success in Times of Change' became the title for my new book, which I'm honoured to have endorsed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Jack Canfield, author of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul'.
Remember this receptionist, and all the other folks mentioned in this article, when you get up and head off to work each day. Will someone so fondly recall you for making a difference? Because, in spite of the frustration we all experience in our daily tasks, isn't it reassuring to remember that we too truly can:
‘Make our life worth living as our living is being made.'
Author & Keynote Speaker