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There are no little things

“Sometimes when I think of the tremendous consequences that come from little things, I think…there are no little things.” – Bruce Barton.

He’s right. When most organizations look similar to customers, it’s the small things that make you stand out in their eyes.

Here’s an example…

Virgin Atlantic has a number of legendary employees who epitomize Virgin Flair (the personality they look for in employees and then allow them to express). One was Sue Rawlings, an in-flight attendant. People at Virgin still talk about her years after she left the organization.

Just before serving the ice-cream that Virgin offers to passengers when they are watching the in-flight movie, Sue would duck into the galley, smear ice cream all around her mouth, then emerge and start serving.

As she moved down the cabin, she would pronounce very loudly, so people would look up as she passed, “I never touch this stuff myself as I’m watching my weight, but people tell me it’s delicious. Enjoy!”

The effect was a wave of laughter that moved down the cabin with her, as passengers looked up from plugging in their headphones or fiddling with the volume control in preparation for the movie, and saw the ice-cream smeared around her face.

Is this a big thing? Of course not. Is it expensive to do? Of course not. Is it a memorable customer experience that those passengers talked about to family, friends and everyone else they met for ages afterwards? Of course it is.

Virgin pioneered ice-creams with in-flight movies. And Sue Rawlings added further to the experience for passengers. Compared with the cost of a Boeing 747, the cost of serving ice-cream is virtually nothing. Yet it is the small thing – the small extra – that differentiates here because all the other airlines fly Boeing 747s, too.

As Seth Godin puts it in his new book title, Small is the New Big. You don’t have to spend a lot to stand out from the competition in your customers’ eyes and provide them with a memorable customer experience that makes them want to come back for more.

You just need some imagination and personality.

Source: The Sue Rawlings story was told to me by Lyell Strambi, Executive Director at Virgin Atlantic, and I used it in my book Seven Secrets of Inspired Leaders.

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