It was early in the morning when I pulled into the PCA off-airport parking lot, pulled my bag out of the car, and waited for the shuttle to pick me up for the short ride to the airport. It was only a minute or two before the shuttle pulled up, loaded with sleepy travelers, their bags stacked on the rack just inside the bus.

I fully expected the driver to open the shuttle door, grab my bag, hand me a car location slip, ask me what airline I was flying, and tell me to be seated. This fairly mundane, but necessary experience is one I’ve had many times. But today was different. When the shuttle door opened, the driver hopped out, said a cheerful “Good Morning,” jumped back inside with my bag in hand, offered me his hand up the step, and said, “Welcome aboard” as he wrote my car location
on a slip and handed it to me. When I told him the airline I’d be flying, he said, “That will be our second stop. I’ll be sure to announce it.” As I sat down on the bus, he offered me a bottle of water from the cooler by his seat. I noticed classical music playing on the radio, just loud enough to cover up the noise of the bus engine. On the trip to the airport, this driver made two informative announcements, asked how the temperature was in the bus and reminded us to look on the back of our ticket stubs for the 800# to call if we had a late return and needed immediate pickup.

In less than 15 minutes, the attitude, enthusiasm, and needs satisfaction this driver gave us made an otherwise ordinary ritual into a very pleasant experience. Little things? Yes. But with every comment or helpful gesture, he addressed two essential elements of gaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.

1. Think in the prospect’s perspective.
This driver was thinking about what we wanted and needed, and addressed our needs as if he really enjoyed being of service. It couldn’t help but make us feel good.

2. Give the customer more than they expect when they least expect it.
The water, the music, the friendliness, the information – none of it really necessary. But the value it added to this experience will keep me coming back to this parking lot, hoping to get this bus driver again and again.

Did I tip him? You bet! Will I mention him and this experience on a customer satisfaction survey? Absolutely. Will I  extend the reach of their marketing by being a good word-of-mouth referral source? I will. I just did.

Pretty effective marketing for 15 minutes worth early in the morning. I encourage you to think about how you can make your prospects and customers feel that every encounter with you, however brief, is an unexpectedly positive one. Examples might be to sound so enthusiastic on the telephone that your prospect cannot wait to come in and meet you personally, to answer prospect objections using the Triple A Formula, to have a welcome sign ready for prospect and child when they walk in the door of your center for a visit, to have a surprise Parents’ Day when every parent bringing in their child gets a special treat and a photo (Polaroid or email with permission) to take to work with them. However small, if your action is timely and of value to the prospect or customer, you’ll make their ride with you a pleasant one. If a shuttle driver can do it, so can you.

Best wishes and happy enrollment building.

Julie Wassom
The Child Care Marketing Expert and Coach
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author