Amy Rees Anderson

Surprise Customers With Unexpected Awesomeness!

Last week I was the keynote speaker and Emcee for the UVEF Awards for the top 25 companies in Utah that were under 5 years old. The company that won the award shared their mantra with us, which fit perfectly with the MCG theme of being AWESOME!  They shared that they want to “Surprise customers with unexpected AWESOMENESS! I think at MediConnect we should expand it so that Account Management does it for the clients and the ROC (which stands for Retrieval Operations Center for those who are new to our lingo) should do it for the medical providers, because keeping the providers happy is just as important as keeping the clients happy – so SURPRISE both of them with UNEXPECTED AWESOMENESS!…

So how can you surprise them with unexpected awesomeness? Be creative – do something to make them smile or lift their spirits. Do something to make their day. To inspire you to come up with ways to surprise them with unexpected awesomeness I am going to share a story I came across that is seriously one of the coolest examples of unexpended awesomeness ever! (It’s a little long but worth every second to read…just read fast so we don’t get behind today!)

The Greatest Customer Service Story Ever Told, Starring Morton’s Steakhouse

The following story is entirely true. More importantly, I swear on my entire professional reputation and all I hold dear to me that the story below was in no way staged, planned in advance, or in any way faked. This is real. And most importantly: This is AMAZING.

When my alarm clock went off at 3:30 this morning, I knew I was in for a long day. I was catching a 7am flight out of Newark to Tampa, Florida, for a lunch meeting in Clearwater, then heading back to Newark on a 5pm flight, getting me in around 8:10pm, and with any luck, to my apartment by 9 or so. We all have days like that, they happen from time to time.

Made my flight, everything was on time, got to my lunch meeting. Because of the training/workout schedule I’m on, my first meal of the day was that lunch. Was fine, I had a healthy piece of grouper, and a very successful lunch meeting that lasted just about three hours.

By the time I got back to the airport, it was close to 4pm. Flight boarded at 4:30pm, and I knew that by the time I got home, I wouldn’t have time to stop for dinner anywhere, and certainly didn’t want to grab fast food at either airport. When I got on the plane, my stomach was a rumbling a bit, and I had visions of a steak in my head.

As I’ve tweeted and mentioned countless times before, I’m a bit of a steak lover. I go out of my way to try steakhouses all around the world when I can, and it’s one of the reasons, no doubt, that my trainer at my gym is kept in business. But it’s all good – give and take. Over the past few years, I’ve developed an affinity for Morton’s Steakhouse’s and if I’m doing business in a city which has one, I’ll try to schedule a dinner there if I can. I’m a frequent diner, and Morton’s knows it. They have a spectacular Customer Relations Management system in place, as well as a spectacular social media team, and they know when I call from my mobile number who I am, and that I eat at their restaurants regularly. Never underestimate the value of a good CRM system.

Back to my flight. As we were about to take off, I jokingly tweeted the following:

Let’s understand: I was joking. I had absolutely no expectations of anything from that Tweet. It’s like how we Tweet “Dear Winter, please stop, love Peter,” or something similar.

I shut off my phone and we took off.

Two and a half hours later, we landed at EWR. The fact that a flight got into EWR on time during summer thunderstorm season is a miracle in itself, but that’s not important right now.

Walking off the plane, I headed towards the area where the drivers wait, as my assistant Meagan had reserved me a car home.

Looking for my driver, I saw my name, waved to him, and started walking to the door of EWR, like I’d done hundreds of times before.

“Um, Mr. Shankman,” he said.

I turned around.

“There’s a surprise for you here.”

I turned to see that the driver was standing next to someone else, who I just assumed was another driver he was talking to. Then I noticed the “someone else” was in a tuxedo.

And he was carrying a Morton’s bag.

Now understand… I’m a born-and-raised New York City kid. It takes a lot to surprise me. A LOT. I see celebrities on the Subway. I see movies being shot outside my apartment, and fake gunfire from any given CSI show, five days a week. I’m immune to surprises.

Except when they’re like this.

Alex, from Morton’s Hackensack walks up to me, introduces himself, and hands me a bag. He proceeds to tell me that he’d heard I was hungry, and inside is a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware.

He hands me the bag.

I. Was. Floored.

Let’s make sure we’re clear on a few things here…

1) I was joking in my Tweet. I never, ever expected anything to come of it other than a few giggles.

2) Morton’s Hackensack is 23.5 miles away from EWR, according to Google Maps. That meant that in just under three hours, someone at Morton’s Corporate had to see my tweet, get authorization to do this stunt, get in touch with Morton’s Hackensack, and place the order. Then Morton’s Hackensack had to cook the order, get it boxed up, and get a server to get in his car, and drive to Newark Airport (never an easy task, no matter where you’re coming from) then, (and this is the part the continues to blow me away,) while all this was happening, track down my flight, where I was landing, and be there when I walked out of security!

Are you taking this all in? Because it happened to me, and I still can’t even fathom it.

Think about all the things that could have gone wrong: My flight could have been delayed or diverted. I could have exited out a different location. (Had I taken the AirTrain and not had a driver, I never would have even exited that way!) I could have just missed him all together, I could have landed early, etc., etc…

I have no doubt that countless companies think like that. They think along the lines of “Oh, too many logistics. That’ll never work,” and they leave it at that.

But what if it does work? What if it happens, and it works perfectly, and it shocks the living hell out of the person they do it to? Like it did tonight?

And what if that person’s first thought is to make it public? Like I did tonight?

We live in a world where everyone you meet is a broadcaster. Look around. Think of all your friends, all your colleagues. Do you know anyone anymore who doesn’t have a camera in their phone, or anyone who doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account?

As I say in my book over and over again, customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about producing amazing moments in time, and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told not by you, but by the customer who you thrilled. They tell their friends, and the trust level goes up at a factor of a thousand. Think about it: Who do you trust more? An advertisement, or a friend telling you how awesome something is?

Of course, I immediately tweeted out what happened: “I don’t believe it! Morton’s showed up at EWR WITH A PORTERHOUSE!” and sure enough, Twitter lit up like a bottle rocket.

————————————————————————–

AMAZING STORY and BRILLIANT customer service! Think of the impact that company made by going the extra mile for that customer and think of how wide spread that impact was on their business. Just plain awesome.

This week’s challenge is for all of you to come up with ways to surprise the clients and the providers with UNEXPECTTED AWESOMENESS! Share your ideas with one another by posting a response to todays’ tweet. Then don’t just talk about your ideas – implement them! I want to hear all about it when you do. It’s going to be a great week!

~Amy

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