For nearly thirty years, I have been what many call a, "road warrior". I have accumulated nearly 3 Million Miles as a Delta SkyMiles member. That might sound fascinating and wonderful, but believe me, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Oh, the benefits of free flights and hotels are very nice, but the wear and tear that travel takes on the body can age you beyond your years.
I've noticed that, over the years, the loyalty programs for airlines and hotels are constantly changing, mostly making it more difficult to attain awards and next-level status. But that seems to always be expected. For me, I've always found that the "little things" are what set brands apart. Most companies can deliver on the bigger, or expected, things most of the time; but, those that go a little further stand out to me.
In the early days of my travel life, I was flying out of Oklahoma City in the dog days of summer. I was running late for my flight on American Airlines and still had to drop off a rental car. It must've been 100 degrees outside and 100% humidity. It was brutal. After racing through to the airport, successfully dropping off my rental car and running through the terminal to my gate, I made it! I was sweating profusely, but I made the flight in the nick of time. All 6'7" 250 pounds of me sitting in a middle seat bound for Chicago.
Shortly after take off, the beverage cart was rolled out and, at last, I was about to receive some refreshment from what just occurred in Oklahoma City. The flight attendant was not in the best of moods and when it was my turn to request a drink I asked for a Diet Coke. Then, I went too far...I asked if I could have the whole can. Big mistake that day. The attendant looked at me and said rather curtly, "sir, we have a full flight today and if there's any leftover when we finish, I will bring you a can". Ouch. I felt like I had the eyes of 200 passengers glaring at me. By the way, I never saw the can. I made a mental note that, in the future, if there's another airline I can take, I'm taking it.
Now, you may say this sounds petty on my part, and maybe it was. But, I rarely flew American Airlines after that experience. The cost of a can of Diet Coke probably cost the airline 10 cents back in 1986, but it really cost them much more. I estimate that that I probably spent well over $500,000 in airfare over the last thirty years of my career and I can tell you American Airlines received very little - all because of a "little thing", a can of Diet Coke.
What are you doing that is going a little bit above the call of duty? What are you doing that stands out from your competition? How are you making your customers feel special? It doesn't always take big, elaborate things to make a difference. Remembering a person's name, asking how a customer's sick relative is doing, making a child feel special, walking a customer out to their car under an umbrella during a rain shower....take time to consider what actions you can do to make a difference to your customers.
Little things do matter!