When Customer Service Exceeds Expectations

Jim Luff
Posted on January 30, 2019
A complimentary hot shave expresses the finest in luxury customer service. (Pexels photo by Nick Demou)

A complimentary hot shave expresses the finest in luxury customer service. (Pexels photo by Nick Demou)

Some people say good customer service is hard to find. We live in such a rushed society. Smartphones are largely responsible for creating the “now” mentality where you can get or find just about anything in a matter of seconds. There is no wonder why Amazon and others are eager to implement drones for immediate delivery.

I still don’t know how that would all work out, but I know if I ordered something on Amazon and it arrived at my house within an hour, I certainly would be impressed.

But that’s not what my blog is about today. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about slowing down and enjoying life. I personally like the relaxation and pampering of a boutique hotel. One of my favorite spots is The Peninsula Hotel of Beverly Hills. When you arrive at this hotel, you will see staff opening the driver and passenger doors simultaneously while the trunk is also popped open and another person unloads your luggage.

One of the people helping you at the car is a manager who will personally take you to your room while your car and luggage are whisked away. There are no valet tags. Your bags just magically show up in your room. If you ask the manager for a pitcher of iced tea, you are liable to get that along with a tray of chocolate covered strawberries and other fruit. If you arrive at 6 p.m., your check-out time is 6 p.m. the following day. If you sit by the pool, someone will massage your feet if you would like. Men can get a hot shave in the poolside restroom. This is the type of customer service that almost forces loyalty, because outside of your mom, no one is going to treat you as well as they do here. This is an example of what exceeds expectations in my eyes.

I wanted to slow it down a notch more than the big city of Beverly Hills. My wife and I headed off to the quaint community of Avila Beach, Calif., where we stayed at the Avila La Fonda Hotel. The community has a population of 15,000 and includes one single main street with two bars, a general store, several wine tasting rooms, and a handful of restaurants. Everything is within walking distance and the whole town is new after it was discovered in 1998 that Unocal Oil had seeped 400,000 gallons of mixed petroleum products underground in the business district in 1998. It took years to clean it all up and rebuild the city.

When you arrive at La Fonda, there is no check-in counter. It is simply a small desk in the middle of the lobby. Check-in includes a welcome gift and two wine glasses that are yours to keep. Wine flows freely every day at La Fonda as they host daily complimentary tastings. From noon to 2 p.m., you can enjoy a free nacho bar that includes free soft drinks and beer. We also enjoyed his and her massages in our room.

Walking into our room was such an inviting experience. We found a basket full of goodies like popcorn, candy, chips, soft drinks, bottled water, and other goodies. Unlike the commercial mini-bars in Las Vegas, you don’t have to worry about being charged an arm and a leg just for looking at a bag of chips. No, in fact, they are free. Everything in the basket is free and a note even invites you to take everything home with you when you leave if you would like. Say what? Yeah! It’s that over the top. If you should decide you want to surf the web, they will give you a laptop to take to your room. Want to watch a movie? They have a library of movies you can take to your room and watch.

Throughout the day they bake chocolate chip cookies. Let me tell you...these cookies are superior to the single warm cookie handed out by Doubletree at check-in and you can have as many as you want.

My absolute favorite experience was waking up to the smell of something baking. It was 6:30 a.m. and this wonderful smell of croissants wafted through the entire 24-room property. You can have plain or chocolate filled along with fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Oh, if you want a snack, you simply head to a pantry filled with items and are served on the honor system. You write down your room number and what you took on a pad of paper.

While this might look like a blog about Avila La Fonda, it is not. The intention is to share what over-the-top service delivery is and how this small boutique hotel leaves you feeling like you spent the weekend at a friend’s big mansion. This is the type of service we should all try to deliver to our clients. We left feeling like our expectations had been surpassed.

Related Topics: building your clientele, client markets, customer service, hotels, Jim Luff, luxury hotels, operations, VIP service, wealthy clients

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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