Engaging Employees to Drive Brand Loyalty

Some brands and organizations do the darndest things … to delight their customers.

Have you ever heard the one about the Ritz-Carlton guest and the grape Gatorade? The luxury hotel and resorts chain is famously known for the “little things” that delight their guests to the point where these stories become near-legendary.

This story goes something like: Valet parks guest’s car in hum-drum fashion. Guest left empty bottle of grape Gatorade in the cup holder. Next day, guest gets in car and guess what was sitting in that cup holder? Yep … a fresh bottle of ice-cold, grape Gatorade.

Simple action. Thoughtful gesture. Much more substantial impact on that guest experience than the price of the item.

I was reminded of this story when I had an experience of a brand |org exceeding my expectations in a most delightful way. It didn’t involve grape Gatorade, but it did involve my daughter getting sick in the back seat of our car. This post-vomit story is trickier than most in that my heated seats are made from perforated leather. Use your imagination. It wasn’t pretty. And there was nothing that I could do to remedy the seat portion of this mess.

I texted my service dealer (we are on a text basis – I’ve been bringing my vehicles which rack up some serious mileage to him for a decade) and was told: “Go ahead and bring it in. We’re going to have to remove the seats.”

I was starting to feel sick myself … a disgusting situation had suddenly become both disgusting AND annoyingly $$$$$!

I returned to the shop in my rental two days later, expecting to receive a pricy bill. After all, the service guys had toiled over the car for hours (and they knew what my daughter had eaten for lunch!!!). The seat had to be removed, soaked and reassembled. Thanks to all that, my baby smelled as fresh as the day I bought her. So what was the damage from a monetary standpoint, if there was no lasting damage to the car? Absolutely nothing. That’s right. He would not charge me a dime.

What he got in return was priceless loyalty. This employee is one smart cookie. He knows what a great customer we’ve been over the years. But now this act deepened that loyalty. I wouldn’t even consider going to another dealership. I mean, what dealership? Now, there may as well be no other places in the area to service my vehicle.

Do you think your employees would see just another piece of trash in a cup holder, or an opportunity to get a customer’s attention and forever devotion?

Do you think your associates would put in 10 hours of unpleasant labor to knock the socks off your (soon-to-be forever) client?

Be it a $3 fix in a bottle or a $300 fix in the form of elbow grease, the most successful organizations with the most enviable following boast an army of brand advocates who consistently delight their fans in the most surprising of ways.

Brand behavior comes from the top-down, and is embedded into the culture of the most successful, customer-centric organizations.

As a leader, what are you doing to empower and direct your employees to do more and establish a forever fan?



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