Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Why is customer service so hard in Australia?

I've just spent four wonderful days celebrating a friends birthday which has given me an interesting perspective on what's possible in customer service given the right attitude. What started out as fun, gave an interesting perspective.

Being Mr Normie's 50th birthday, three couples decided to go to Hong Kong and spend a long weekend celebrating. We flew via Singapore, on Singapore Airlines, and experienced the marvels of large international airports. Despite serving millions of people, everyone wore a smile, all flights were on time, everything ran like clockwork and it was spotlessly clean. To add some fun, and to create lasting memories for Mr Normie, I asked every service person we encountered on our trip the same question:

"It's Mr Normie's birthday. Could you please help us celebrate by making a birthday wish?"

Upon arrival at the outstanding Langham Hotel in Kowloon, we were greeted personally and given free Mo√ęt and cucumber sandwiches with a "Happy birthday Mr Normie smile" for three days!

Normie's cake at Azuro Restaurant.
We dined at the beautiful Azuro Restaurant where, with one simple request, the entire wait staff joined the celebration. They served a specially prepared dessert complete with dry ice to add to the theatre. All this with a "No problems for Mr Normie attitude."

Even at a bar where the band was interrupted mid song, we got a "Put your hands up, put your hands up for Mr Normie”. Two hundred people screaming "Happy birthday Mr Normie!"

Then on our way home with Singapore Airlines, following a whisper in the ear of a Singapore Girl, Mr Normie was sincerely presented with a handmade birthday card signed by all the cabin staff, a small cake, dry ice again and a glass of champagne. All in economy class!

The best though was yet to come. My mate Norm rang the Langham Kowloon last night to thank the CEO of the hotel for their incredible service and staff. He left a message of thanks with reception.

One hour ago the CEO rang Australia to wish Mr Normie a happy birthday.

Did he have to? No of course not, but he did because he cares.

The Singapore Girls did because they wanted to.

The restaurant staff did because they love their jobs and are grateful for one.

The Langham staff did because the standards they set themselves are high, and it works. We will go back.

Sadly, our taxi driver coming home to Essendon from Tullamarine airport would not wish Mr Normie happy birthday because I did not ask. He was too pissed off about the small $37 fare for me to even mention it!

It's not hard people. Happy birthday Mr Normie.


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