Monday, July 20, 2009

A Service Award Winning Coffee Cup

While doing a series of workshops for a university, I stayed at the Northfield Inn in Northfield VT. The Inn is a wonderful bed and breakfast that covers customers with a service as soft and embracing as the down quilts on the beds. Aglaia who owns the Inn does all she can to make one feel part of a family that just happens to live at the Inn for a few days. Wonderful experience.
Okay, the cup. I had to rush through my breakfast. That morning a three course affair of fresh fruit, the Inn’s signature hot granola and a frittata. I had to get to the University to start a morning of workshops on customer service so I rejected another cup of coffee.
“Not enough time thanks. Got to run. Would love another cup but don’t have the time. “And I shot up stairs to get my materials for the presentations. When I came back downstairs and headed for the door, Betty who helps Aglaia in the mornings was standing there with a cup of coffee to go.
“No sense going without the coffee” was all she said. No ceremony. No flourish to show she was giving outstanding customer service. Just doing what was natural and correct. Looking out for her customer. She simply knew what to do to help me out the door with a smile, a cup of coffee and a desire to come back to the Inn.
This is one of the best examples of outstanding service I can think of. That’s why the cup should be replicated and handed out to those who have provided great service.
This is also why the action should be replicated. We should anticipate what students might want and make sure it is there for them. The anticipation should be built on what we hear from them. What we learn from them as we interact with them. After all, that’s what Betty did. She earned what I wanted and provided it. Not what she wanted to give me or what she thought I wanted. After all, if she gave me a cup of tea simply because she thinks I should want tea….No coffee cup trophy award.
So, if you know of someone who should get a coffee cup, please let me know and we will get it to him or her and let folks know of their great work. Just let me know who, why and we’ll take it from there. And we are thinking about rewarding the best service story with a weekend at the Inn.

BTW, when I met with the president of the University for an exit discussion, I mentioned that the school should have meetings at the Northfield Inn and have people just watch Aglaia and Betty to learn some great service first hand. Of course he already had known of the service there since he stayed there himself and became one of the family too. Might be a great idea for you and your school or business too.


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