Delightful exceptions

Zürich airport is unique for its observation deck, where you have a clear view of airplanes taking off and landing.

I recently visited the observation deck with my family, and a relative had come to see us off. Technically, we had to buy a ticket for the visitor. However, the employee at the counter allowed her on the observation deck for free. The ticket to the deck would have otherwise cost €5. But this small gesture from the employee and her friendly mannerism earned the airport well over ten times more goodwill than €5.

I was also at a hotel in a small Polish town on a cycling trip.

On checking in, we asked for a safe parking place for our expensive cycles. The employee at the desk let us park the cycles safely in the hotel’s conference room, given that they didn’t have any events scheduled. We spoke about this gesture several times and even ended up extending our stay for a night, partly due to this gesture.

Both these incidents have one thing in common – the customer-facing employee on the frontline was given the autonomy to accommodate special requests for guests, even if it meant straying out of the rule book. This autonomy is win-win-win. It is good for business, delights customers and results in happier employees.

The degree of autonomy your employees enjoy is the degree to which they can delight customers with a human touch.

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