By Paul Reilly

Hilton is known for their award-winning guest experience. The employees are well trained and empowered to act. I recently experienced this while checking in at a Homewood Suites in Houston, TX.

During check-in, an employee noticed that I was a Hilton Honors member (the Hilton rewards program). He thanked me for my loyalty and brought over a basket of candy. In a rare moment of self-control, I abstained from grabbing a piece of candy. I explained to him that the candy was not part of my “healthy” eating plan. I jokingly said, “I’d be better off having some fruit.”

After a few more minutes, I was handed my hotel key and I walked toward the elevator. But before I could get on the elevator, I was greeted by the candy guy again. Only this time he offered me a bag of fruit instead, and said, “Here’s an apple and orange. Enjoy your stay.” I made it to my room and enjoyed the fresh fruit.

What made this a memorable experience? It was unexpected.

There are endless opportunities to add value if we just listen. To recognize these opportunities, you must be customer focused. Customer-focused sales and service professionals view the world through the eye of the customer. From this vantage point they discover unique and unexpected ways to add value. Although customers might be aware of their needs, they aren’t always aware of your ability to satisfy their needs. That’s why it’s critical to view the world through the customer’s eyes. With a customer-focused view, you can cross-reference their needs with your ability to satisfy those needs.

In this example, the Hilton employee and I were both aware of my need—to snack on something healthy. However, the employee cross-referenced that information with how he could satisfy that need. He went to the kitchen or supply area and grabbed two pieces of fruit.

The employee was customer focused; he listened to me. As a result, he knew what I needed and he satisfied that need. Make a commitment to add some unexpected value this week. Listen to your customers. View the world through their eyes and ask yourself, “How can I add value in a unique and unexpected way?”

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