WOW Word-Of-the-Week #487: Obliged

December 5, 2013 by  

Obliged provided a service; accommodated.

 Two weeks ago my WOW was Invisible, which I would say, is the polar opposite of feeling obliged. This quote from James C. Penny, the founder of the JCP stores, says it all.

“It is the service we are NOT OBLIGED to give, that customers VALUE the most.”

Can you think of a time that you gave your customer, guest, member or client something that you were not obliged to give? Do you remember how they responded to that? How about you? Do you remember that last time you got “real service” and felt you were accommodated?

One of the reasons I was in Italy in October was to speak at the TTG Incontri Travel & Tourism Industry Show on the “FUN-damentals of World Class Service.” When I used the JC Penney quote one of the audience members asked me to give them an example. So this week I am going to share my service experiences that I was “not obliged” to receive and really appreciated during my last trip.

In Salzburg, Austria they only sell stamps in 4 packs at the post office. I had 5 postcards and one was being sent to Belgium. I didn’t want or need to buy 8 stamps. So I bought the 4 stamps for the US and when I got to my hotel I asked the girl at the front desk, “Do you have a postcard stamp for Europe that I could buy from you?” She was more than happy to do that and put it in the mail for me!a oblige

In Trieste, Italy I had made reservations online to be transported to the ship in Venice. When I made the payment I needed to print my reservation. I took my laptop down to the front desk and asked if they could call the company to tell them I couldn’t print it out. He very nicely told me, “Send me the email confirmation and I will print it out for you down here.” I can’t believe I didn’t even think of that!

Now for the one situation where I was not obliged and I’m not sure who was at fault. You tell me? In Europe Daylight Savings Time ends the last Sunday in October, unlike the US, where it ends the first Sunday in November. Long story short – we got up and went for breakfast at 7:30 – there was no food or anyone to get us a cappuccino. We went downstairs and the person on duty spoke no English and could not make a decent one. Needless to say we packed up and left very unhappy at 8:30 (not knowing it was really 7:30).

It wasn’t until Monday afternoon that we realized the time had changed. After seeing the third clock with the wrong time I figured it out. I emailed the manager to tell her why I was going to give her a bad review on Trip Advisor. She was so apologetic and said they had told some of the guests. I suggested she do what the cruise ships due and print a card for the room. She liked that idea. Would you have known if you were in a foreign country and couldn’t speak or read the language about the time change?

This week is all about making your customers, guests, members and clients feel obliged. And even better than that, would be to really focus on J.C. Penney’s quote. What service could you provide that you are “NOT OBLIGED” to give? What do you VALUE most when it comes to being served?

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