I’m just back after being away for our 2015 Asia Pacific Regional Meeting in Shanghai, where we had one of the best examples of excellent client service that I’ve seen in a long time – which provides a superb learning opportunity for all of us in professional services. Our Asia Pacific conference is typically our smallest meeting, with around 20 attendees, and as such, we don’t make up a significant part of a hotel’s business in the same way that we do for our other conferences.

That generally means that while hotels will offer us good service, they don’t go out of their way to wow us – they just don’t consider it to be worth their time. But I was pleasantly surprised to see otherwise in Shanghai.

I’ve had quite a lot of experience working with hotel contacts all over the world in the last ten-plus years, and had been telling our Executive Director on the plane how pleased I was with the service that we’d gotten from our contact, Jecy, at the Grand Hyatt Pudong in Shanghai. She was efficient and responsive, whether on weekends or Chinese New Year – even at times I wasn’t expecting an immediate response from her.

Just prior to our departure, I’d gotten an email from her saying that she’d upgraded our rooms and that of our Chairman at no additional charge – a really wonderful surprise. Normally that only happens when you have a large enough group to meet a certain threshold, but the hotel did it for our group despite our size. I hadn’t even mentioned that our Chairman was a VIP – they had taken note from an earlier email when we’d had some reservations difficulties and I’d referenced it. Great attention to detail.

She’d noted in that same email that while she’d indicated the time of our arrival (6am flight landing), the hotel was very full, so our rooms may not be available when we arrived. We weren’t looking forward to having traveled for so many hours and not being able to sleep, but there was not much we could do.

I’d arranged for a hotel car to meet us, which they did. We arrived at the hotel, and were greeted by name by several hotel staff as they opened the doors for us (they’d clearly been alerted to our arrival, but it was still a nice touch). We were whisked inside and taken to the 54th floor lobby, where I fully expected to check in. But no.

Instead, our Executive Director and I each had our own personal check-in person take us directly to our rooms, where they explained that we’d already been checked in, and they only needed our passport and credit cards to complete the process. We provided those, and in the time it took to take and return them, our luggage was delivered and we were settled in our rooms – with an amazing view of the Pearl Tower by the way.

It really was a “wow” experience – I felt as if I was their only guest, even though it was very clear from our arrival in the lobby that they had quite a large conference in the hotel at the time. The hotel was pretty full, and yet, we felt as though we were the most important people there. No small feat.
I often joke that I’m easily pleased, because my needs are fairly simple, but I am actually not easily impressed when it comes to service, since good service is very difficult to find today. But the Grand Hyatt Pudong truly wowed me.

What does this have to do with lawyers, law firms, and marketing professionals? Plenty.
No matter how small the client or the matter is, treat everyone as though they are the most important person you will talk to that day.

I’m as guilty of this as everyone else – we’re all so busy that it’s easy to get caught up in expediency over service and to rush through things rather than offering people the attention and time they deserve.

I’m not suggesting that we waste the time of busy people and clients by overdoing our treatment of them – that’s not what the Grand Hyatt did either. We were exhausted after traveling such a long way, so they streamlined the check-in process for us so completely that we both felt like VIPs AND had an efficient experience.

We can all:

  • Have greater attention to detail: Make note of things that clients mention, even in an offhand manner, that you can later use to wow them in some way. TV shows that they like, favorite sports teams, the things they like to do on the weekends, family members’ names, etc. All of those things ad the personal touch, which provide a warmer experience.
     
  • Be responsive: I mention responsiveness a lot, because it continues to necessitate repeating. Reply to your clients, and quickly, even if just to tell them you’re working on their request. It seems like a waste of time, but communication is SO important.
     
  • Go the extra mile: Find something that will wow your clients – whatever it is. This is individual for all of them. For our clients, in some cases, it’s our Executive Director responding to our European lawyers at 4:30 in the morning (they tease that they like to email as early as possible to see how fast he’ll respond). Maybe it’s getting hard-to-find theater tickets or a really nice bottle of wine. You’ll know what it is.
     
  • Treat every client like a VIP: No client is too small. We may have been a small group, but our experience was extremely positive, across the board. All of the delegates had an amazing time at the hotel, and that will have a multiplying effect – as an organization, we will publish this blog post, sharing the experience, we’ve offered to write a letter recommending our contact at the hotel, and we’ll look to use Grand Hyatt again for other conferences. Our local hosts were pleased with the event as well, and will recommend the hotel to their foreign clients coming into Shanghai and will look to hold events there in the future, and as one of the largest law firms in China, that’s a very meaningful thing. And each of our delegates will remember the hotel well and recommend it to friends and colleagues visiting Shanghai, and look to use them in the future as well. It may seem that treating small clients as VIPs doesn’t have an important effect, but it can have an exponentially important one.

Let’s all take a chapter from Grand Hyatt Pudong’s book and work to make everyone feel like a VIP – what unique ways can you suggest to wow your clients?