Daniel Humm is the chef and owner for the Michelin three-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad in New York City. He’s also the recipient of six James Beard Awards, four stars from the New York Times and the S. Pellegrino Chef’s Choice 2015 award. Mr. Humm was recently interviewed by New York Magazine and asked how me keeps his team motivated. He replied:
We treat every service as if it’s the only one that matters, the same way a sports team prepares for a championship match. Everything we do is done with intention and the desire to make the guest’s experience the best it can be.
Humm’s simple recipe for excellent customer service reminded me that I’d recently posted an article about luxury hotels that had missed the service mark as reported in a study conducted by Luxury Branding. The post was titled, Luxury Service: Why is it so hard to get it right?
Following Daniel Humm’s example, I’d like to offer my own “recipe” for luxury customer service. As I’ve said before, everything you do should be done with grace and elegance. It’s in the word ‘grace’ that we see the ingredients we need to deliver exceptional service. (Remember the word ‘grace’ comes from the Latin gratia—to give thanks.)
The GRACE Approach to Luxury Service
Greet – The greeting is your first connection to a customer and marks the beginning of the relationship. A warm, welcoming smile is in order. Engage the customer by asking an open-ended question such as “How may I be of service?”
Research Needs – It’s been said good salespeople have good answers, but great salespeople have great questions. The key is to ask open-ended questions that help you identify your customer’s unique needs. By using open-ended questions, you’ll encourage your customers to talk more. Studies have shown the more a customer talks, the more engaged a customer becomes, and the more likely he or she will buy.
Advocate Benefits – Rather than rattling off a list of features (a statement of value) share two or three benefits (a personalized statement of value) you believe offer the most value to your customer. To turn a feature into a benefit, think of the customer asking “So what? Why is this important to this me?”
Check Objections – Behind every obstacle is the issue at hand as well as the emotion driving it. It’s important to check what’s behind the objection. Start by acknowledging the emotion and following up with a question. For example, “I understand this is an important decision. May I ask if there is something that’s holding you back?”
Enhance the Customer Relationship – Your relationship to the customer doesn’t end when he or she walks out the door. Think about how you can proactively reach out to customers to grow the relationship by building upon additional needs. A hand-written thank you note is always welcome. You may want to invite them to an upcoming event, alert them to a new item, or just check in to see how they’re enjoying their purchase.
With this recipe for exceptional customer service in hand, your customers are sure to return for more!