"Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans." This is the advice given to a new Area Manager in Ken Blanchard’s book, “Raving Fans”.
It’s sad, but true. Our expectations of most business/customer service interactions have been set at a ridiculously low level. In fact, most of the time we have come to consider such interactions good if they just manage to avoid being bad. Unfortunately, too many businesses have taken comfort in the fact that mediocrity is the new good.

However, I hope good isn’t good enough for you and your business. If that’s true, then you have a huge opportunity to create your own raving fans.

I recently went on a spring break trip to DC with my 13-year-old son and had the opportunity to experience exceptional service and become a raving fan.

Before I left, I went to Mapquest for directions to the hotel. While I knew the hotel, Residence Inn Arlington Capital View, had opened the week before, it never crossed my mind that the new hotel may not have been in the Mapquest database. After entering the address, I received very detailed directions - unfortunately, when I made the final turn onto a residential street, it was obvious that they were very detailed directions to the wrong location. Mapquest had picked a street by a similar name, but one that was nowhere near my hotel.

Being a guy, my first instinct was to just drive around a bit assuming I would find the correct street, but I soon gave into the heavy sighs of my son and stopped and asked for directions. I knew I was in trouble when they guy at the service station had no idea of where I was trying to go, much less how I could actually get there.

I got back in the car and used the only other option I had; I called the hotel hoping that they would tell me, “Oh, you’re just around the corner, go 3 blocks, turn right and you’ll be right here.”

No such luck.

I told them my location, the roads I took to get there, and David (the desk clerk at the hotel) had no real idea of where I was. He suggested that I drive and tell him cross streets, landmarks, etc. After a few blocks, he started to get an idea of where I was, but it was 5 zip codes away from the hotel.

He easily could have given me a few “next steps” and told me to call him back when I reached a certain point. Honestly, I would have considered that to be “good” service. Instead, he insisted on staying on the phone with me, even through the heavy DC traffic and the long waits at stoplights. For half an hour, he gave me turn-by-turn directions all the way up to the front door of the hotel.

What could have been a terrible start to a trip, turned out to be a great experience. When we walked into the lobby and David greeted us at the door, I felt as though I was meeting an old friend. Every time I saw David during our stay, I was struck by a connection that I felt to him and his hotel.

Because expectations have come to be so low, I would have been satisfied with much less of an effort from David. However, what he delivered was exceptional and I can tell you, he created a raving fan.

When he answered the phone that afternoon, he had no idea who was on the other end of the line or what they needed. I’m sure he had no idea that the call would occupy the next half hour of his day. However, he was prepared to deliver exceptional service and make me feel that he was actually honored to be able to help me in a time of need.

What about you and your employees - are you prepared to deliver exceptional service at any moment? Are you creating raving fans or are you only creating customers who are merely satisfied?

To borrow from another author, Jim Collins, don’t let good be the enemy of your great.