Memorable customer service…Where’s the washcloth?

Memorable customer service…Where’s the washcloth?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Two true stories from the travels of a weary sales trainer:

I flew to Hawaii a few years ago. First time. Seven hours in the plane makes a person a weary traveler. I was met at the airport by my host, and given the traditional lei (necklace of flowers). Fantasy fulfilled.

Gritty from the plane ride, I enter the lobby of the Hawaii Prince Hotel, walk over to the desk someone smiles at me says “aloha!” and gives me a hot steamed, moist washcloth. Ah! Just the refreshment and revitalization I needed. WOW, what a great way to greet a customer, what a welcome!

How do you greet your customer?

Other than the price of the room, the lobby, and a few nicknacks in the room very little separates hotel rooms. A hot washcloth stopped me in my tracks. It was a surprise, an unexpected moment of pleasure, something small that separated the Hawaii Prince from all other (hundreds of) hotels I stayed in.

What separates you from your competition?

What made it memorable? It was such a small thing. But every time I check into a hotel, I’m looking for the washcloth and disappointed when it doesn’t show up.

Where’s the washcloth in your business?

What standards are you setting? What makes people talk about you?

What makes people look forward to doing business with you?

What makes people tell others about your business? Like I’m telling you about the Hawaii Prince Hotel.

True story #2:

The British Air flight from Budapest was delayed two hours because of fog in London. We’re already locked on the plane on the runway. Trapped like rats. Usually, I’m so mad I can’t see straight. But today was different. The crew was not American. It was British.

The cabin crew supervisor (in Britain the title is “Cabin Service Director”) Tony Adams, grabbed the microphone and says there’s nothing we can do about the fog but we can eat!

The crew was delightful. Serving everyone real food with fresh brewed coffee and tea. Everyone is full and we finally take off. About an hour into the flight, Tony Adams, announces, “A bit more bad news, I’m afraid it seems the fog has lifted, but the air traffic has backed things up another hour. For those of you making transfers, don’t worry too much, this plane was supposed to take off for Sweden two minutes ago. The entire cabin laughed.

Five minutes later, Adams is on the loud speaker again. “To pass the time, we’re going to have a contest. Guess the collective age of the cabin crew and win a prize. And there’s an additional prize if you guess my age exactly.” I was shocked and amused so were the rest of the 150+ passengers. Fun on the airlines – imagine that. Everyone was talking having a good time. The crew came through the cabin collecting scraps of paper from the passengers with their calculated guesses. The winner was announced over the loud speaker. WOW! I was one of three winners who guessed his age “spot on” – 46. Cool. My prize was nice, but not as nice as the feeling.

“Are we strapped in and ready for landing, sir?” The delightful flight attendant said in a jovial voice with her classic British accent. “It’s about that time.” She said happily. For the first time in 500 flights I couldn’t wait to get my belt on.

Tony comes on the microphone as we fly over London and says. “Below us is the House of Parliament where John Major is temporarily in power.” The entire plane roared.

They took a negative (obstacle) 3-hour delay, and turned it into a positive (opportunity) by making everyone extra happy.

The good part when you do something out of the ordinary, it not only creates a memory, it sets a standard. How do you follow it?

The better part when you do something out of the ordinary, it keeps you challenged to improve it each day.

The best part when you do something out of the ordinary is that your competition is woefully lacking by comparison.

On another British Air Flight, I’m getting ready to get off the plane waiting for the typical insincere, robotic message “have a nice day and thanks for flying ________ (plug in the airline’s name).” Instead, the lively first officer grabs the mike and says, “Welcome to Paris! If you’re here for a business meeting I hope it’s a successful one. If you’re here on holiday, I hope it’s a happy one. If you’re making a transfer, I hope it’s a smooth one. And when you’re flying again, I hope it’s a British Air one.” The people on the plane started to applaud. An unbelievable moment in customer service. The customer clapping for the vendor. When’s the last time your customers applauded you?

FREE GitBit… There are three options a customer has to talk about you when the transaction is over. Want to know what they are? Just go to click Access GitBit register and enter the word OPPORTUNITY in the search box.