CEO letters (or Chief Executive Officer) on the card shown by a man

What is it that your clients keep coming back for? What sets you apart?

I went to a Sonoma County Go Local Cooperative event where Dr. William Silver, dean of the School of Business & Economics at Sonoma State University, was the keynote speaker. He said “Who is the CEO of your organization? Who is the Chief Experience Officer?” He went on to describe how people love Starbucks because they are buying not just coffee or a muffin but an experience. No matter where they go in the world, they know they can depend on getting that experience at a Starbucks in Des Moines, Beverly Hills or Atlanta. That there are people whose travel is greatly determined by the proximity of the nearest Starbucks.

His words really stuck with me. So much so that I quoted him months later when speaking to hospitality and tourism professionals at Tourism Trends 2010 hosted by the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau. This beautiful county is all about experiences. From the views of the beautiful wine country, the vistas of the Pacific Ocean or the world class cycling, we are an experience destination location. Hospitality professionals help administer memories, events and adventures that we remember for the rest of our lives. If there was any industry I could speak directly to about the Chief Experience Officer, these were the people that would hear what I was saying.

The reason I chose to write about it is because I got a small bit of an experience today. Two different professionals that I respect, both congratulated me on successes I had recently had. I received one via Twitter (@kregobiz) and then just minutes later opened my mail (yes, REAL mail) and there was a card in there for me. These two women went out of their way to acknowledge me and the hard work I’d put into my community. I already like them both personally but this seals the deal. They CARE about other people (namely me, my favorite cause) and they’re paying attention.

I strive every day to provide excellent customer service and value to my clients. I’ve recently realized that it’s important not to stop there. Why should I treat paying clients even better than the regular people in my life? I’m making more of a conscious effort to treat everyone with that attention to detail. I’m not perfect but I know that I try.

The difference between you getting the client or making the sale could very well be that small effort. Every interaction you have with others leaves a wake. Make sure that what they remember makes them smile.

(Thanks to Virginie Dorn of Business Copy Center and Misty Mesel of Cumulus Bookkeeping Consulting.)

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