As a provider of intranet software we naturally offer a range of services – from training, support, configuration, interface designs and consultancy through to bespoke development.
While travelling this week to one of our clients in Malaysia, I was reminded once again what great service really means.
Example 1 : An Airline
Travelling business class with Qatar Airlines I experienced really excellent service from all of the cabin crew – individual attention with the exactly the personal touches and positive engagement that really makes such a difference. I didn’t even catch them out when I moved seats – I was still Mr. Davies and they remembered whether I preferred sparkling water or still, what wine I was drinking, and which jacket they had hung up for me.
But what was clear to me was that the bedrock that puts this service in context is the standard of the plane – the seat, the food, and the general environment.
Without that underlying solid quality at the foundation level, the personal service would just become a hypocritical seeming attempt to paper over the cracks.
Example 2 : A Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur : The Mandarin Oriental
The menu listed an elegant kind of matrix of meat types, sizes, and choices of sauces. Nice but nothing too remarkable. The interesting thing was that after choosing your steak a charming lady then arrived with a wooden box of knives for you to select just the right one – wooden handle, modern handle, heavy, light. These things were razor sharp, interesting, and basically just the greatest knives to eat a steak with.
What is the cost of this kind of exceptional service? Almost nothing basically – the knives are continuously reusable – but just like the service I experienced at Qatar Airlines the rest of the experience – the basics of high food quality and an enjoyable environment – needed to be in place to prevent this additional service from looking very awkward.
As an aside this is a nice touch of innovation through continuous improvement – at the time it seemed remarkable to offer me a choice of amazing knives to eat a steak with, but looking back on it and remembering some very blunt and boring knives – it now seems like a perfectly sensible idea.
Example 3 : Our own intranet client meetings last week
We are really trying to emphasize a friendly approach to consultancy – now the Claromentis web based framework has got so significant we are often working through the best way to implement solutions for clients from a range of appropriate choices offered by different applications.
Last week we were working with a new client, a young company with a great idea for using our software in an innovative way within the talent assessment field. We had an enjoyable meeting, with designers, sales, and application experts all up there white boarding away with the client – discussing options, finding the greatest way to exceed our clients expectations. Here is an email from that client which I received while staying in KL this week:
“We really enjoyed working with you and the rest of the team on Monday. It feels like we can do a lot of exciting things together.
It’s a joy to watch people collaborating on creating something the way you all were and to see you all working out how to solve problems for us.
What did that session cost us? Basically nothing – except our time – indeed a very valuable commodity at Claromentis these days, but a more conventional meeting would only have saved a couple of hours.
Again it was based on a firm footing, the framework really is powerful, and the applications work. The additional service is interesting for our staff too – as they bounce ideas off of each other. Creating the best solution is just more fun!
I will certainly be back at the Mandarin Hotel in KL, I am a new fan of Qatar Airlines business travel, and I hope we can be as devoted to great service with our clients over the coming years.
Great service only creates an exceptional experience when the underlying product is already rock solid. A really good lesson to have learned.