Monday, December 29, 2008 by Dave Blum

As a small business owner, I tend to notice excellent customer service when I experience it.  Over the holidays, I observed two fine examples:

1) Jen and I are scheduled to stay at a B&B in Calistoga, a famed hot spring town in the wine country.  On our way up, the innkeeperof Foothill House, Darla Anderson, calls Jen’s cell with the news that it’s raining in Calistoga and our room has sprung a leak — and not just one, mind you.  It has at least five small leaks!   None of them is awful; and luckily, all five leaks are along one ceiling beam, away from the bed.  We decide to stay, and Darla knocks down the room fee by $50/night!

2) On Saturday, we go wine tasting at the Castello di Amoroso, just south of Calistoga.  This is a fabulous place — a 40 million dollar Italian castle, with all the materials imported from Europe.  It’s got murals; it’s got a chapel; it’s even got a dungeon and a torture room (for show only, we’re told, but you have to wonder).  Anyway, at the tasting after the tour, our guide informs us that we have a choice of five wines to taste per person.  Jen and I choose our wines carefully; clearly if we work together as a team (yes, chances for team building exercises are everywhere) and share the glasses, we can have sips of as many as ten wines.  Eventually, though, we come to the last of our glass, with three more tasty-sounding wines still on the menu.  Mary, our guide, says don’t worry about it and pours us the final three wines anyway, no charge.  We wind up buying three bottles of wine.

In both instances above, excellent customer service led to sales.  It’s definitely something I’ll think about as I continue promoting my scavenger hunts and corporate team building activities:  as a business owner, how can recover gracefully from difficult circumstances, and how can I provide unexpected service that people will remember?

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