Speaker | Entrepreneur | Author

Sam Davidson's blog

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Remarkable in 4 Minutes

As I've mentioned before, it doesn't take much to be remarkable.

Case in point: this past Monday, while in Minneapolis, two separate instances occurred in which a simple, 4-minute act could have completely improved the customer experience.

Signs of the Times?

The first incident happened at the Embassy Suites. This particular hotel had 5 elevators. The first two were immediately near the front desk and were the ones most people used after checking in. The other three were on the other side of the lobby near the the conference area.

One of the first set of elevators was out of service. Therefore, it took longer than normal to get on the elevator. And, because there was only one for the vast majority of the hotel guests, this led to crowded elevators (and a near fight, which I witnessed). The elevator stopped on just about every floor each time.

This problem of overcrowding and raised tensions could have been prevented if someone at Embassy Suites had taken the four minutes required to open Microsoft Word and type: "This elevator is out of service, and we hope to have it repaired as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are three more elevators on the other side of the lobby. Thanks for staying with us."

The second incident also involved a sign. As I was checking in for my flight back to Nashville, I approached the kiosk since I had an electronic ticket and had no bags to check. I noticed a sign telling me that if I were connecting in Chicago, I'd need to see the agent at the desk because there were long delays at O'Hare and I could miss my connection. Since I was changing in Dallas, this sign didn't apply to me. Or so I thought.

As I was about to swipe my card and retrieve my reservation, a customer service person asked me where I was traveling. I told her my route and she said I couldn't use the kiosk. I'd have to get in (a very long) line and see someone at the desk.

"But I'm not flying through Chicago. I'm going to Dallas."
"Yes, but all flights out of Minneapolis are delayed right now."
"Not just the ones to Chicago?"
"That's right."

Again, had someone spent 4 minutes to print out a correct sign, I would have stood in the right line to begin with, instead of getting my hopes up for a quick check in.

Of course, my flight wasn't delayed and I got home on time. Again, had someone taken 4 minutes to update this person that flights to Dallas were on time, I would have had a better experience. Then again, American Airlines gave up a long time ago.

It's not hard to be remarkable. While this reality says a lot about humanity and the service delivered in many of our transactions these days, you can stand out in a crowded field by communicating clearly.

And, it doesn't take a long time to get an accurate message across.

  • What can you add to your newsletter to show why donor dollars are more effective than ever?
  • What sign needs to be in your store to direct people where you want them to go?
  • How can you better explain the features of your product on display?
  • What are you doing to make sure no one is confused when they go to your Web site?
  • What story needs to be told to motivate your audience?

If you rely on your audience and customers to guess what you already know, they'll leave and never come back. After all, if you can't make a sign to let me know an elevator is down, can I really expect you to offer me a clean room and a good night's sleep?

Spend 4 minutes right now thinking about what you need to say to those you're trying to reach.