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Anticipatory Service Problem Prevention, Part 2

Whenever I get the chance, I enjoy staying at a particular hotel. If I want to do something special with someone, I take them along. I do so for the sheer joy of sharing such a special experience. The hotel is 6 star and world class. Upon arrival, an entourage awaits you. Every door, including your car door, is opened for you. An impeccable staff manages your luggage, and your car is whisked away for safekeeping as you are ushered into its palatial interior. A well dressed gentleman stands waiting in the lobby to be sure you quickly find the front desk. As you are assigned your room (generally an upgrade), the bellman stands with your luggage in tow, ready to lead the way.

The room is meticulous and well supplied with every amenity. “Would you like me to unpack your luggage? I’d be more than happy to, sir! Is there anything you need?” If not, the bellman politely says “I’ll let you get settled in.” But before leaving he quizzes you as to every imaginable potential need. It seems as though they’ve thought of everything—and they have.

Anticipatory Service is the main reason I enjoy staying at this particular hotel. They do this day in and day out and for them, practice has made perfect! They’ve mastered the art of Anticipatory Service.

The grounds are spotless, landscape superb. As magnificent fountains pour generously, the perfect music of the falling water is both peaceful and serene. Meanwhile, you are captivated by the backdrop of a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Staff is carefully stationed throughout the property, standing by to provide towels for swimming, a cool drink or whatever your need may be as you stroll the grounds.

After a day of enjoyment, you return to your room with to find bathrobes gracefully placed at the foot of a perfectly turned down and inviting bed. Slippers lay on each side of the bed along with a tray filled with complimentary items you just might need—everything from a shoehorn to a flashlight. And yes, there are mints on your pillow.

It seems they’ve thought of everything. They have! They have anticipated your every need and carefully provided it. They don’t need advertisements because thrilled visitors leave bragging about the splendid environment and incredible service. Problems are almost non-existent; they’ve prevented them by tirelessly fashioning an environment where they shield the guests from the slightest issue. The phone rings. Who could that be? Not to worry, it’s the concierge simply calling to be certain that you are completely satisfied and that there nothing else you need before you retire.

How did they develop and master such excellence?

As business person I’ve pondered, just how they have mastered such high standards and achieved such success, quality service and impeccable reputation. My conclusion? They’ve carefully considered their customers’ needs and over time developed a comprehensive system that thoroughly meets those needs. Anticipatory service!

As a business, we’ve also made it our goal to pattern ourselves after their approach. Not so much in the sense of luxury, but rather as a guiding philosophy and business practice. We strive to take full advantage of the fact that we do the same things over and over every day and are utilizing that repetition to identify problems and refine our organization.

We are learning by seeing our customers and employees struggle from time to time doing business with and/or working for us. We cannot help but ask ourselves, Why not make a provision to avoid that struggle? Why not view our customers and employees as guests and provide them that same kind of experience and hospitality while they are in our care? Why not tell them what they need to know before they need to know it, instead of frustrating them by forcing them to chase the information, quality and the service they long for? Why not learn from their frustration when we don’t quite measure up? Why not use our interaction with them to learn how to provide anticipatory service?

Why not take full advantage of their complete satisfaction to do our advertising? After all, word of mouth is the highest form of advertising, and it’s free once you’ve earned that reputation—once you’ve mastered the art of anticipatory service!

My company recently experienced a perfect example of how our efforts are paying off. Two neighbors, both presidents of corporations, were chatting. One asked the other (our customer) if he knew of a good drywall company. The inquiring neighbor had several large projects coming up and hadn’t been able to find a drywall company that he was satisfied with.

Our customer recommended us with some very flattering comments and emailed me to say that his friend and neighbor of 22 years had that conversation and gave me his neighbor’s contact info. Since then we’ve secured nearly $2 million in sales based on that simple conversation and our goal to provide anticipatory service.

Next month I’ll finish this article by taking a deeper look at how you can provide anticipatory service and the myriad benefits awaiting those who do.

Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif., where he is known for his proactive, innovative approach to our changing industry, and use of modern technology and cutting edge products and services.

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