On the day customers were scheduled to arrive a volcano erupted in Iceland causing air traffic to cease at Schipol and other major airports.
We weren't sure how many of the 23 customers, traveling from as far as Australia, would arrive in time for the meeting--or if they would still want to come. But they did. Showing the strength of their relationship, customers made their way by boat, by train and even taxi (expensive as it was) to attend the Advisory Board meeting.
In the end there were 18 members and 9 client representatives along with two of us from Geehan Group. We had an interactive and dialogue-driven meeting focused on innovation. At the conclusion, instead of saying good byes, we realized we would be seeing more of each other as we waited for airpoirts to reopen. Although we were all grown adults, my client acted as host arranging for extended hotel rooms, planning excursions and meals, acting as travel agent and even inviting us to their office and to their homes.
I tried to explain to my client how important this was to their customers--that they were going above and beyond what was expected and that it would further deepen the relationships they have with these customers. My client commented it was what any company would have done.
As proof to my perspective, my client received the following communication from one of their Advisory Board members:
"...the level of support we got from you – as well as from the whole [Company] team – during our stay has been simply outstanding and may be well considered as a benchmark, in terms of professionalism AND empathy.
I really appreciated it and I know for sure that it was not definitely simple for you and your colleagues to cope with such an extraordinary situation: in my understanding this means that your approach is something different from the usual “customer care”: you took care of the people, not simply of the librarians, and I really appreciated it."
My client has frequent interaction with their customers, values their opinion and takes care of them when times are tough. They see this as "normal." Their customers, and others like me, think it is exceptional. Regardless of whether it is normal or exceptional - ROI studies show this level of customer care pays.
So while we were stuck in Amsterdam for several additional days, I've have to admit it really wasn't so bad...for any of us.