Exceeded Expectations

Recently, my wife and I celebrated 20 years of marriage by taking a 12-day cruise on Celebrity's Galaxy. Having been on a few cruises in the past, I knew there would be lots of food and varying levels of service. But I was surprised and delighted by the service on this cruise. 

The first night of the cruise, my wife asked our waiter, Yelcin (from Turkey), for iced tea (she drank two glasses) and I had a cup of coffee after dinner. The next night, the assistant waiter, Menino, brought my wife not one, but two glasses of iced tea without being asked. He also brought my coffee after dinnerwithout being asked

Surprise! That really exceeded my expectations. My local Indian restaurant, where Shirley and I have been eating almost every Saturday has to be reminded that Shirley likes iced tea with her lunch. 

My local breakfast restaurant sometimes remembers that Shirley likes hot tea in the winter and iced tea in the summer. Depends on the waitress. 

Get the idea? Waiters on this cruise who will probably never see us again treated us like valued guests by remembering our preferences. 

Similarly, when we got back to our cabin that first night, we found a little box of chocolates left by our room attendant, Ramon. It was a gift for being in the "Captain's Club." The next day we got an invitation to a cocktail party with the captain for being in the "Captain's Club." What the heck is a Captain's Club, I wondered. 

As I discovered, Captain's Club is for guests who've been on other Celebrity Cruises. The last Celebrity Cruise we were on was for my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1994! Celebrity has a long memory. Again, I didn't have to tell anyone we'd cruised with them before. They just took it upon themselves to know. 

This also exceeded my expectations. I've been on a couple of other cruise lines and never received treatment like this. 

Celebrity seeks to treat everyone like they are a celebrity. Although I didn't feel like Kevin Costner and Shirley didn't feel like Madonna, it did make us feel special. As the assistant maitre'd, Timothy, said: "We want to exceed your expectations." 

In contrast, I tried to make a call from the airport in Rome to cancel our hotel reservations for the night. None of the phones in the international terminal worked. The men's toilet was flooded, just like it was when I arrived 12 days before. We had to ride a bus to the aircraft because of gate problems. Obviously, this was way below my expected level of quality. 

Kano Model

The Kano model suggests that every customer has an "expected" level of quality. If you don't rise to that minimum level, customers are dissatisfied. You can also exceed their expectations and win more customers. 

Unfortunately, you can't rest on your laurels. Yesterday's exceeded expectation is today's expected level of quality. 

Think about your life. We expect running water and continuous electricity. We expect to be able to make a call from anywhere. How often are you surprised and delighted by some new, unexpected level of service or quality? 

Here's My Point

Is my company as good at exceeding expectations as I'd like? Yes and no. Do we keep trying? You bet. 

Now, think about your business. Are you too comfortable doing what you've always done? What are your competitor's doing that you can use to rise to current levels of customer expectations? What are you doing to find new ways to exceed customer expectations? 

Maybe, like Celebrity, you need to have a longer memory. 

Maybe you need to be faster, better and cheaper. Lean Six Sigma can help. 

Haven't you waited long enough to start finding new and exciting ways to delight and retain customers? 

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537, support@qimacros.com."

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