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From Italy With Love: Lessons Learned in Customer Delight

by Leslie G. Ungar

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From Italy With Love: Lessons Learned in Customer Delight Recently we went to Italy on a “trip of a lifetime”. Italy remains beautiful, rich in history, delicious from the gelato to the pasta, and a shopping mecca. This was an organized trip for three couples where all we had to do was show up at the airport. Our little group met with the travel agent and we all received an itinerary in advance. We didn’t necessarily read it, but we did receive it!

We all have many opportunities to be a star to our clients. Come with me to Italy and see opportunities, mostly missed, to create customer delight.

We were met at the Rome airport with a small van provided for the tour. Picture six adults, four having traveled first class with the maximum of three pieces of luggage per person. Each with the additional optional two pieces of carry-on. Now we stand in the hot noon sun and try to sandwich seven people and 19 pieces of luggage into a mini van.

Before you chuckle over the image of the luggage laden Americans, keep in mind one thing. The only guidance, limit, or suggestion we had for luggage was the mandate from the airlines. We all had fulfilled the amount of luggage per person and the weight allowance.

We had been traveling for 24 hours. Some of us had eaten some had not. We faced a four-hour ride in the now overstuffed van. Guisseppe, our tour guide, was challenged to see out his right side, and we were uncomfortable with 4 people stuffed in the second seat. How delightful if the van would have met us with cold drinks and fruit.

We got to Sorrento on the Amalfi coast. The hotel was a huge disappointment. It was like an Italian Howard Johnson’s. The only way you could only get into shower was to ease into it sideways. The plastic white chairs on the balconies were a dead give-away that this was not a trip of a lifetime. Comparisons to our stay at the Ritz and the Crillon in Paris did not bode well.

We called the travel agent back home. Unhappy, but eager to be thrilled with our next stop. Now he had our cell phone. Surely he would check in with us.

Positano and Ravello were as picturesque as promised. An hour in each town?

For our trip to Florence we were met by a super sized van. Enough room for our luggage and all of us. Yeah! In Radda, the return of the mini van. We were forced to wave good-bye to our luggage and hope we would see it again in Rome. Surely, the travel agent would check in with us.

Siena, Radda, Orvieto, the Chianti region, one medieval town after another, one castle after another, one church after another. We longed for Rome, the Via Venetta and the excitement of the Spanish Steps, so we changed the itinerary ourselves.

In Florence our travel agent made reservations on a Monday night for a restaurant that was not open on Mondays. We crisscrossed across Italy some days spending more time in a van than on our feet. Surely, the travel agent would check in with us.
Lunch at a vineyard was included. Why did those other tables of guests get multiple courses for lunch when we got bread and water … I mean tapas.

Our friend, the van on steroids, came to take us to the airport. Except that the driver dropped all of us at the same terminal. Only to find out that we each needed to be in a different terminal. Yes, those now twenty pieces of luggage needed to be moved once again.

7 Lessons Learned in Customer Delig

Regardless of your industry, profession, or job:

1. Be clear with your clients up front
Communication is your friend. Use it well, wisely, and often. Tell people what they want to hear AND what they NEED to hear, that is your value. How many people have people in their lives that will tell them what they need to hear?

2. Bad news is better than no news
Operate from and embrace the mindset and the mantra that information is value. Information is like currency.

3. Stay in touch
Even if you think you don’t want to hear what a client, patient, guest, or member has to say, stay in touch. It is better to hear it to you, than about you.

4. Under promise and over deliver
Want to be a star? Give more than you promised. If you bill a trip as a trip of a lifetime, you have set a standard.

5. Look for ways to delight
The real lesson in this trip is that we all have so many opportunities to delight our clients. Look for the opportunities. In this case, the travel agent checking in with us throughout the trip would have delighted us. Having something in our room when we checked in, WOW. A note when we returned.

6. Follow up
Just because you don’ want to hear it does not mean it won’t be said. Calling us upon our return, even an email or a text would have been a nice gesture AND netted the travel agent helpful information for future tours. We had verbal gold to offer if we had been asked.

7. Ask questions
When you ask questions only one of two things an happen, either you confirm what you know or learn something new. Both have great value.

So the question in any language is: what have you done to delight a client, to make them a fan, an advocate, or an unhappy traveler?


Leslie G. Ungar, president of Electric Impulse Communications, Inc., coach, speaker, and strategist. In our work we Transform Ordinary Leaders to Extraordinary. Your group would benefit from hearing me in person or you can sign up for my monthly newsletter at  | blog

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