Oneway

Who are our customers? Part 2

You may remember my recent blog (if not please check it out http://ow.ly/c1fRd) regarding the differing treatment of customers by an airport car park service. In that I mentioned that there was another way to treat customers and this was evidenced in a recent trip to Casablanca. My experience there put me in mind of Michael McIntyre’s story about a bus journey (http://ow.ly/c1f6p)  but my journey involved a taxi driver not a bus driver.

Some colleagues and I were strolling around the city (against the advice of the local rep) trying to find a particular restaurant that, according to the reception at our hotel, wasn’t far away. Up to the next major road junction by the Hilton hotel and take ~~~~ street and the restaurant is on the left, simple. At present they are replacing the tram network in the city so large parts of the roads are building sites, the major road junction in the directions given by our hotel being a great example of this. Plenty of piles of rubble and fences stopping pedestrians wandering into dangerous places.

After about half an hour wandering around trying to find the street we were none the wiser but somewhat hungrier. We decided to pop into the Hilton hotel and ask directions. Unfortunately, they had not heard of the restaurant. So we were left standing outside the Hilton considering our options when we were approached by a rather tall local (the tall bit isn’t important). He mentioned that he was a taxi driver and asked us if he could help. We pointed out that we were looking for a particular restaurant but we knew it was just across the square (albeit one that was difficult to cross because of the rubble etc.) so that we wouldn’t need a taxi, just directions. Rather than try to sell us the idea of the taxi he walked to the curb and started pointing at one of several streets exiting the square and tried to describe the directions. At this point several of his compatriots joined in, trying to get us to get into their taxis.

When it was obvious we still hadn’t ‘got it’ our tall saviour said that he would walk us across the square, by a somewhat circuitous route due to the building works, and show us the relevant street. After we all congregated on the other side, having dodged many cars, taxis and bikes, our tall friend then pointed out the next part of the journey to us. He, obviously, picked up on the look on our faces and saw us for the idiots that we were and said that he would walk us to the next junction. This walking taxi ride continued in the same vein until we actually reached the restaurant we were looking for. At that point the ‘taxi driver’ mentioned that this actual restaurant whilst good was very ‘touristy’ and that if we were looking for better local food and atmosphere he knew of a better restaurant a few streets away. So we continued our ‘taxi ride’ for a further 15 minutes or so.

When we arrived at our new destination the taxi driver took us into the restaurant, introduced us to the owner and insisted that we should get great tables and great service. At this point he bade us goodnight and turned to leave.

So, how is that for customer service? The taxi driver went the extra mile, literally, on foot. He expected nothing from us yet he was prepared to help to his best ability. Unfortunately we left Casablanca the next day. If we had stayed and needed to get anywhere I know who we would have contacted to provide the transport. He would have loyal customers for as long as he needed them and not only that (much like I am doing now) I would be telling everyone I know to use his services. How do your people deal with those that are not your customers YET, do they drive them away or do they turn them into advocates. Do they help everyone to the best of their ability or do the minimum requirement to get by?

….oh, and our friend the taxi driver. Of course we didn’t let him leave. We paid him more than we would have if he had driven us there in his taxi and we paid for his meal with us. He was a very happy man. You see another important learning point is that if you provide exceptional service you can charge a high price for it AND people will not mind paying.