In this era of discord, it’s gratifying to see how a community can pull together in times of crisis. This was my experience in visiting Red Lodge, Montana, which suffered severe flooding when Rock Creek breached its banks. The deluge destroyed homes, bridges, and roadways.

Residents worked together to fill and distribute sandbags to protect property. And soon after the flood, the community held fundraisers to assist impacted citizens. Cleanup efforts continue.

When a disaster occurs, people respond. How do we tap into that generous spirit when flood waters aren’t approaching or when life’s activities are routine?

Exceptional service is noteworthy because it’s relatively rare. When traveling, there’s an expectation of friendly service. On recent flights, I encountered airline workers who graciously performed their duties.

Problems happen. During a recent hotel visit, I reported the staff didn’t clean our room. We returned to a spotless room later that day. Their efforts were commendable, but the service fell short.

Memorable Moment 

And then I saw exceptional service in action. It was before 6 a.m. at an airport coffee shop. Most of the customers were half asleep, but the barista radiated energy and the warmth of a hot latte. She chatted with a customer in front of me. She asked him his first name and then said, “How do you spell Conrad with a C or K?” He replied, “I’ve never been asked that before,” The question brought a smile to his face.

Then it was my turn. This cheerful barista asked me the same questions. What’s my first name? (Leslie). And do I spell that with an ie or ey?

As we waited for our drinks, Conrad and I agreed the barista was exceptional. And all that she did was show interest in us during our early morning coffee run. But here’s a key: she was authentic. The barista showed interest in us, and we responded.

After chatting with the barista, the conversation reminded me of a famous Dale Carnegie quote:

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” 

Above and Beyond

The Red Lodge volunteers and the congenial barista provided exceptional service. The circumstances were vastly different, of course, but they showed how we can step out of our humdrum duties to make a difference.

How can professional services firms take an extra step to connect with your clients? Here are some examples:

  • Take part in community cleanup days
  • Share your career experiences with youth
  • Volunteer at civic events
  • Support local cultural activities

Perhaps you show interest in your clients in other ways. You can ask about their favorite charity or golf game. Or maybe you make sure that you’re giving project updates that match their expectations.

When possible, share some relevant information via email or even snail mail.

When you ask follow-up questions at a future meeting, it shows you were paying attention to what is important to them.

During crises, we all hope we will step up and do the right thing. But on a day-to-day basis, we can connect with others in a memorable way, whether they’re clients, stakeholders or partners.

What examples of exceptional service have you witnessed?

















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