This weekend, my husband surprised me with a family getaway to Temecula, California. What a beautiful place. The scenery is spectacular, there are lots of things to do, the weather is warm and it has a real community feel. Like people actually care about each other.
Every theory needs practical application. I’m always looking for examples of what customer service looks like — and what it does not look like. With these examples, I like to relate to something that nonprofits can learn from and apply to their organization. Let me tell you a story…
Friday afternoon in Temecula, we set out to explore the town. Since we have a small baby, we wanted to go look at all the wineries, but couldn’t necessarily go tasting like we might have in the old days. Temecula has a beautiful wine country, all nestled in the valley, so we just had to go admire the views. We were ready for lunch, and we were interested in finding a winery with a restaurant that was overlooking the vineyards or the valley so that we could enjoy the warm weather and the scenery. What can we say? We know what we want.
We stopped in to one winery with a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the valley, but no restaurant. We talked to one of the staff members at this winery and outlined what our hopes were for a Friday afternoon family lunch. She gave us several recommendations based on the criteria that we shared with her. She talked us through the area and gave several recommendations based on her favorites. She actually spent the time to help us, when there was no immediate gain for her.
Fast forward 20 minutes, and we made our way to Leoness Cellars. Bingo! Outdoor patio, overlooking the vineyards, restaurant. Yep, that is what we wanted.
We were seated on the perimeter of the patio with a beautiful view of the valley, and just to add to this perfect ambiance — there were fresh grapes hanging on the vines right next to us. The weather was perfect for us (about 90 degrees!), but there were also misting sprayers on the perimeter of the patio. This was the perfect place.
I sat my daughter down in my husband’s lap and went to the restroom before getting settled in to enjoy this perfect atmosphere. When I came back, one of the misting sprayers was pointed right on our table, so a staff member was changing the direction of it for us. In doing so, one of the misters got a little out of hand and started spraying all over our table. My husband got a little wet and my daughter got a little bit too. OH NO, I thought. Is this ruining our perfect lunch?
No way. Not ruined at all. The staff sprang into action as a team, turned off the misters, moved us to a different table and we started over. The manager came over immediately, apologized and asked if we were ok. The poor guy that was changing the direction of the misters felt horrible and apologized profusely. But what really impressed me was the next 10 minutes. The manager came over again and asked if we were ok. One, two, three, four, five – five different people came over to ask us if we were ok and if we needed anything. This was in addition to our server, who offered us a glass of wine on the house for our little incident.
Seems like a simple example, right?
Now here is my point: this the perfect example of a relational mindset versus a transactional mindset. To Leoness, it didn’t matter that we were just one table among many at the restaurant, planning to spend money on lunch. They didn’t think of us as a transaction. They treated us like their best customer, because we had the potential to be just that. They didn’t make assumptions that this one transaction would be it for us. They made the effort to create a relationship with us. I’m sure that they have lots of one-time customers, as well as lots of return customers. But that day, they treated us like gold, rather than making any assumptions about what was in it for them.
The immediate result of the afternoon I described is that my family was able to enjoy a wonderful, delicious, relaxing lunch in the ambiance that we were seeking.
The long-term benefits for Leoness are far greater, however. If I’m ever back in Temecula, Leoness is the first place I would chose to go. If I know of anyone going to Temecula, I will highly recommend Leoness. And with the power of social media, I plan to shout it from the rooftops about our wonderful experience there so that many people will know about this amazing winery and restaurant in Temecula. Amidst all of my talking about the customer service, I didn’t mention that the food was amazing. And we didn’t get to try the wine this time since we have a little one, but some day we will.
Now let’s pause for a second and think about the point of this story from a nonprofit’s standpoint, which will always be my focus. Are you capitalizing on every opportunity to create relationships with the people with which you interact? Are you thinking about your interactions as relational opportunities, rather than transactional opportunities? From the story I described, your take-away should be this: every interaction that your organization (business, company, etc.) has is the opportunity to create relationships that will affect the success of your mission. Plain and simple.
In my last post, I talked about the importance of relationships. In the future, I’ll give more tangible examples and also talk about how to accomplish relationship management, and what all of this really means. Until then, ask yourself, “Is our organization’s culture one that truly focuses on relationships rather than transactions?”