Every February, an old friend comes to mind. Before I get ahead of myself, lets go back in time a bit.
When my wife was carrying our 2nd boy, back in Feb 1992, we went on a cruise along the Mexican Riviera (the same cities that “The Love Boat” went to).
If you havent been on a cruise, an important tidbit is this: Typically (at least when we went) you sit at the same table with the same group every night at dinner, you become good friends and your waiter is the same person every meal. As such, you get to know the waiter and about his family and such.
Ours was an Filipino man, probably in his late 30s at the time. Because he was on the cruise ship during season, he was away from his family for 5-6 months at a time. It became clear during our cruise that this pained him greatly, but he knew that his work on the ship would provide for his family for the entire year.
When he found out that my wife was pregnant, he turned up the service several notches. There wasnt anything he wouldnt find, do, change, or whatever for her. He funneled the feelings he had for his family into the service we received that week. It was a fabulous week and his service was a substantial part of it. Maybe the service on all cruise lines is like his, regardless we’ll be looking hard at a Carnival the next time we go – simply because they did such a great job of finding him. A guy perfect for the job, even though he saw different faces and did the same job every day, day in – day out, for 6 solid months.
Turn the calendar forward about 5 years. I’ve taken the family to Florida for the standard tourist bill of fare when you have 2 young kids (Disney, etc) and we’ve been lucky. It just so happens that a Space Shuttle launch is on the launch pad and they are dodging clouds and such as usual. An insider tip was given to us that the cruise lines dock near Ft Lauderdale is a great place to see the launches, so off we go.
There are several ships at the dock, and lots of crew members are milling around as we join dozens of cars and people on the side of the road.
A short, olive-skinned man in a waiter’s smock walks up to us and says hello. He remembers my wife and asks about the kids. Finally it hits us, its our waiter friend from the cruise. 5 years later, he has remembered us from sight and rather than ignoring us, he’s come over to say hi and such. We’re both floored that he remembers us. While we wait, we talk about the kids, his kids, how his wife is, etc. He still works for Carnival. At the time, I could remember his name, unfortunately I cant remember it today (raising teenagers can do that to a guy, I guess).
Our Filipino friend has just created a lifetime memory for his company, as well for himself. He also has performed a marketing task that his corporate marketing group couldnt possibly have pulled off.
Dont you want to go on a cruise and have this guy be the one who takes care of you all week? Sure you do.
Now the tough question: Are your people doing that? Do they understand that their actions, service, demeanor and everything they do is a form of marketing? How long will you wait to share that with them? How often will you put things in place to help them do that and help them remember to do that?