Last month I shared with you a story about an experience I had visiting a hotel and the impact it left on me (See “You Need To Live it To Achieve it” at The experience provided me with an important perspective about what the “ultimate client experience” is and how companies who live it, can achieve it.

However, we don’t achieve something by simply experiencing it once. Which is why I thought it would be helpful to share another story with a different perspective. I went to a well-known restaurant for dinner after a long day. When I came in I was greeted nicely and I was shown to an acceptable table and given a menu. However, the table had no napkin or silverware. I waited about five minutes to be acknowledged by my server. Finally I got a glass of water delivered (no lemon). Shortly after, my server approached me and I ordered off the menu with a few special requests. 

I waited for the yummy bread I asked for but I didn’t receive it. I finally waived down the server and asked for the bread and got a “sorry things are really crazy but I will get it.” The bread showed up within two minutes of my food. I still had no silverware or napkin, so the server went off to find some. The food was absolutely great and I enjoyed every bite. They even had real horseradish and got my extra requests correct.

But with the horseradish came some extra spice and my water glass had been empty since before I received my bread and I never got the lemon I requested. Finally I was able to wave down the server and get a water refill to finish my dinner. The server stopped by to ask if “I was still 'pickin' or if I was done?” I wasn’t asked, “Can I get you anything else?” They didn’t ask if I would like to see the dessert menu or have an after dinner drink. I retreated and took the check.

Now it was tip time — what would you give as a tip? Would you go back? Would you refer this restaurant to a close friend or family member?  What leaves the lasting experience — the service or food?

How does this relate to what we do every day in our own companies? How are our sales and service team members the “server” to our clients?

In today’s competitive world, marginal service is not acceptable if you want to differentiate yourself. We all know that special place that we frequent because it creates a memorable experience every time we go. 

 Over the last 30-plus years as an IT services company owner, I have always pursued my differentiator as a high-value, higher cost company that delivers the “ultimate client experience.” It hasn’t been easy. My third company that I recently took over leading won’t be any easier. However I will follow the recipe that led me to success in the past. 

For instance, many staff members have never experienced the ultimate client experience. I found that Disney has the best customer training program and leadership development program. I invested in their program and it was a powerful way of building a culture focused on high value client experience.

I include six hours of customer service training when onboarding new employees. I and other leaders share client success stories, role playing scenarios and expectations with new employees.

All employees after three years repeat the new employee orientation of customer delight in order to keep them on track and accountable.

We also record and review support team calls with staff as teachable moments to strengthen their delivery.

In addition, we use net promoter surveys for clients and employees with two questions: 1. Would you recommend my company to a friend? And 2. Can I contact you? We know that anyone that wouldn’t recommend us needs our focus and we want to engage with them to see what we can do to become a referral partner.

By the way, most of the employees I asked about my restaurant experience indicated they would give a 15 percent tip and not go back. The majority of the employees said they wouldn’t refer the restaurant to anyone.