How a tea pot and a cake could change your outlook!

There are two criteria with which I judge every hotel room;

1) the fancy toiletry bottles in the bathroom and
2) the tea and coffee making facilities, with biscuits earning extra points.

I guess I now take these for granted whenever I stay in a high end hotel and I certainly feel short changed if they are missing.

On a recent trip to Austria to stay at the Wiesenhof Wellness Hotel in Pertisau. I was met at the airport by owner Alexandra Entner and as we made the drive through the beautiful countryside she asked me what I look for in a hotel room, so I happily told her. There was a moment of quiet as she considered this and then replied that she’d never considered tea facilities. The bulk of her guests are continental Europeans and it’s just not something they’d expect or want.

When I arrived at my room (having stopped off at a lakeside heuriger for a snack everything was perfect – the large wooden four poster bed, the balcony with a view across the valley, the fluffy white bathrobe, the stack of towels in a wicker basket so I can carry what I need down to the sauna, the bottles of Tiroler Stone Oil toiletries in the bathroom …but, no tea making facilities.

I dumped my bag and headed downstairs so Alexandra could show me around and I could book some treatments in the spa. They have a range of different saunas and steam rooms and treatments that are designed around local traditions and products including the unique Tirol Stone Oil. I can recommend the sound bed and the large Jacuzzi bath with views of the mountains.

On returning to my room – guess what I found? A tray with a kettle, cups, a jug of milk, a basket of tea bags and a plate of home-made biscuits. Perfect. Rather than sticking with the usual format, Alexandra had listened to her guest and responded. I felt welcomed and valued. This small act, which probably took very little effort and cost next to nothing, bought them a fan and a very happy customer; something that simply having a ‘nice hotel‘ and providing the service you feel you’ve paid for anyway, will seldom do on its own.

And this attention to detail and customer care did not stop there. When I checked out there was a Mohn Strudl waiting for me. I had happened to mention how much I liked Mohn Strudl (a soft strudl stuffed with sweet poppy seed) and that whenever I visited Austria it was a must buy on my shopping list. They serve Mohn Strudl in their restaurant and so Alexandra made sure I had one to take home with me. Again, a small act, probably around 5Euros of cost – but an act that I will remember and talk about. To use that advertising clich� – priceless. So it made me think – how can we, in our business, add that bit extra to make our clients feel special? Perhaps cake and tea isn’t the answer, but there will be something – and we’ll know what it is if we LISTEN to our clients.

If we want to run our businesses ethically, then the customer and our impact on them should be among the principles at the heart of the business process.

How much better do you think our interactions would be in business if we all behaved like Alexandra at the Wiesenhof? Would your customers recommend you more often? Would they order more frequently? Would they push you less on price? How would you feel if your suppliers gave you that little extra and listened to what you told them?

How much would this increase the pleasure you get from running your business?

Sadly its more often a struggle simply to get what you’ve paid for or to get a supplier to listen to the simplest request. But when I meet people like Alexandra and stay at places like the Wiesenhof it inspires me and gives me hope that maybe customer care is still alive and well.

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