A common theme within the pages of my book on customer service is with respect to air travel. One highly salient point refers to allowing yourself to become aware of your competition’s strengths, or thinking about strategies that can elevate you to a better level. I challenge you today on this concept.
In an effort to ‘get ahead of the competition’, in particular if you are a smaller version of your market, a muscle to exercise is the idea that it doesn't cost much in order to adopt habits, philosophies or strategies that will let you jump off the porch and play with the big dogs in the yard. I am referring to the expense that is more relatable to what I refer to as blood, sweat and tears. Pride and determination must bring you to a degree of professionalism that your business requires, and putting thoughts where they are most useful.
Consider the idea of Rituals. The word itself conjures up images of thoughtful, often soothing, consistent attention to detail of, usually, a high standard. Something intangible yet definable.
A tea ritual in Tokyo, a bath ritual in The Maldives, a dance ritual during a bush dinner in the Serengeti. It’s not hard to imagine what this means. Even if you don't know, the sheer power of those words surely guarantees a very pleasing (exotic, sensual, lively, melodic, pampering?) experience. It should behoove you to know that when you are in a spa in Tokyo they are most certainly going to close the appointment with a Tea Ritual. And it most assuredly is going to be the final enhancement of your service. What does that mean? Very close attention to making it a true sensory experience.
The Bath Ritual - flower petals, soft sweet water, oils, lush towels, luxury abounds in simple ways in which you are essentially wrapped. Perhaps for two, perhaps with tea or possibly moonlight and champagne. You have a hint that this is what is going to happen. And it excites you before the experience unfolds, in anticipation.
The Dance Rituals. Are you going to be pulled into that mystical magical place where you will feel the spirits of centuries of souls vibrating within the ground under a billion stars like you've never seen? The fire, the heat, the rhythm. You will determine what it means for you before you even hear the first shakes of the Masai’s stick and pounding of their bare feet on the dry earth.
Why? Because that is what rituals can and do and should mean.
So, where does this all fit in to your business you are asking? (at least you should be at this point) Simple. What does it cost to develop your thought process to bring that to your service? Time. Which everyone who wants to invest in their true success should be prepared to spend. What do you get? A whole other level of interest and return on investment.
Consider developing a habit or service or mentality that you are able to label as “RITUAL”, and implement it. Just what ever you do don't forget to put EVERYONE on the same page.
This speaks greatly to what Small Business can do to get ahead, with minimal amount of resources. Put the thinking cap on. Is there something you could develop that could be labeled a Ritual? How about an enhancement of service you already provide making it more personal, or an extra tidbit of product the customer was not expecting. You may decide to only use the word to entice, or to state or describe your intention, then provide something elevated, something extra. But that, dear reader, moves you to implement it and be ready. Get your game on. And don’t fail the word. Keep it organic in nature and simple in its impact.
For example: Maybe your Romantic Hideaway Inn should implement a closing-of-the-day goodnight ritual of lighting incense, playing music on speakers strategically placed through the wind-chimed back garden onto the porch, up the stairs and into the hall. With candles softly lighting the way and chairs with pillows inviting a last sit as your couples retire to their rooms. And whatever you do you will never run out of candles or forget to do it at the same time every evening. No need for the host to be there, the signal of the ritual completes the day for you. No need to tell you what your future clientele will be dreaming of as they read your advertisement for The Twilight Ritual, with nary a detail, just a promise of something special.
But wait, what does this have to do with air travel, as in my opening statement?
Let’s just say that very live thing that is the hotbed of airline activity, fiercely competitive, easily fragmented into poor service at the hands of one single employee out of thousands, and as fickle as its clientele, it has everything to do with ritual if we want to talk about success. Consider the airline that clearly practices its mantra of delivering quality without compromise. KLM is an excellent example. Not one member of the team steps out of that perfectly gracious perfectly attentive perfectly un-frazzled ritual of quality service. Start to Finish. That is their signature. Thats as good as it gets as a Ritual. And its dependable.
Rituals mean something extra to your customer, you know, the ones who like to feel as though they got more than they paid for.
Free advice. Learn it. Do it. Own it.