Bulb

Nobody owns the customer, but someone can always own the moment.

This awesome quote comes from Scott Hudgins, Senior VP of Global Customer Managed Relationships at the Walt Disney Company.  I recently heard it repeated at a national sales conference for BSH Home Appliances Corporation, where I’m a senior learning partner for the Gaggenau luxury brand of appliances.

This quote reminded me that I was actually inspired to start this blog when a luxury sales associate missed owning a number of those “moments” (Missed Moments in Customer Service) that would have made my experience remarkable rather than disappointing. At least something positive came from that unhappy experience. In looking back, I realize I’ve been writing this blog for nearly four years!  Over that time, I’ve shared stories of luxury experiences that have gone terribly wrong and of those that have stood out as shining examples of how to do it right.

Here are some examples of doing it right:

  • The woman at the register of an upscale department store who complimented me on my dress selection. She was not a sales associate and received no commission, but she took a minute to say something nice and it made my day.
  • The waiter in Portugal who didn’t know what salsa was, but assured me the chef could create it if I could imagine what it would be like.
    The hotel maintenance man who sent me a bag of popcorn, soda and free movie when I had trouble with the television in my room.
  • The unwrapping of a simple blush stick that became a sensory experience because of Chanel’s beautiful packaging.
  • The maître d’ at my favorite restaurant (Café  Matisse) who set aside a separate table just for the wine bottles we brought during a recent birthday celebration with a group of friends.
  • The elegant gestures of a server who filled my water glass at a London bàcaro.
  • A sales associate at Prada in Panama who didn’t speak English, but who keenly observed that a certain dress had caught my eye. He pulled out his cell phone and quickly scrolled to a photo of a model wearing the dress so I could envision how it would look on.
  • The salesperson at Bergdorf Goodman who asked meaningful questions about my lifestyle and the types of things I carry in my bag. Throughout the entire interaction, I felt as though he gave me his undivided attention. After leaving the store with my “perfect” handbag, he followed up a few days later to see how I was enjoying my new purchase.

These aren’t over-the-top moments. No one drove through a hurricane to deliver a wedding ring to me and no one took back a set of tires that I didn’t even buy there.  These good moments, however small, came about because the experience was personal. The bad moments happened when the experience was impersonal – when I felt like a non-person or simply unimportant.

The holidays can be a stressful time for any sales associate – hordes of people are shopping, tempers are short, customers are frenzied, store hours are extended. It can be a challenge not to become disgruntled let alone make the extra effort to deliver a luxury experience. You can choose to treat your customer like a non-entity, conduct the interaction like a transaction, and hurry them out the door so you can serve the next customer. Or you can take a few seconds to smile, compliment their good taste, wish them a happy holiday and let them you’ll be there if there if anything goes wrong.

Remember, you own the moment either way. Make it a great one!

Happy Holidays!