You Don’t Need to be a “Genius” to Exceed Expectations

Today’s blog post is by Nathan Anderson, the Client Success Manager here at Patron Technology.

If you asked my friends and coworkers the thing I’m best at, they would be right to say, “Spilling drinks.”

This past summer I dumped a thermos full of coffee on my eight month old MacBook Air (while I was using it). If you’ve ever spilled liquid on your technology, you know that it’s the equivalent of taking it for a swim with you. No amount of shaking, blow-drying, or toweling will save it.

I went to the Apple Store’s “Genius Bar” to confirm my suspicion that it was ruined. The Genius and I had a conversation:

Genius: What happened?

Me: I spilled an Olympic pool’s worth of coffee on my MacBook, and it won’t turn on. I’m going to assume it’s because of… you know… the coffee inside my computer.

Genius: Are you aware of our warranty policy?

Me: You mean how you don’t cover liquid damage? Yeah… yeah I’m aware of that part.

He took the machine, confirmed the great coffee disaster of 2011, and then the Genius (a title he earned that day) said this:

“We need to replace your logic board, clam-shell, RAM, battery…” (This went on for a while.) “The total repair cost is $800. We’re going to cover it this one time. If it happens again–it’s on you.”

Wow, right?

Apple does not do this for everyone. I know this because in 2008 the exact same thing happened to me (remember, I spill things), only that time I had to pay for it.

I have a four point theory about why Apple did this:

  1. I purchased Apple Care. It doesn’t actually cover this kind of accidental damage, but buying it showed that I cared about my purchase.
  2. My MacBook was not yet a year old. If it were three years old, I would probably be paying.
  3. I didn’t lie. Do you think if I had incredulously said, “Hey, man, it just stopped turning on!?!” that Apple’s Genius would have been so generous? I suspect not.
  4. Apple knows me. I’ve visited the Genius Bar before, and they have a record of every interaction we’ve had.

expected Apple to fix my computer in exchange for money. Instead, they exceeded my expectations and increased the value of their brand by doing it for free. Here is the key reason they were able to do that:

They let their staff make educated decisions at the desk.

The Genius was able to assess my history and allow the facts of our conversation to influence the resolution. By treating me like a human being and not like a faceless bag of potential money this employee made me even more nutty about Apple.

Do you allow your box office staff to make ticketing decisions at the kiosk? And do you realize that they are capable of having an invaluable conversation with your customers?

Here’s an example: Say you have patrons (who are in fact students) come to the ticket window without their student ID in hand. According to your policies, not having the ID would make them ineligible for a discount. What happens at your organization? Do you have to turn them away because technically they’re breaking your rules? Or, can the box office rep say this:

“Even though you don’t have your ID, I’m going to let you in at the discounted rate. I’m doing it because this performance is great and you should see it. And the only thing I’m going to ask is that if you like what you see, come back and bring back a friend with you. Sound like a deal?”

Think about all the places you interact with a customer, from phone calls to the front-of-house. Are these employees empowered to make these kinds of decisions? Can they bend the rules in the service of delighting someone?

By now your patrons expect you to hand them a ticket and hear “enjoy the show!” They know you will help them find their seat. They assume you know (or want to know) their e-mail and phone number. Those are givens. What if you took the expected experience and improved upon it by knowing your customers. What if your service to them was informed by the fact that you knew their ticket-buying habits and their recent (or not recent – i.e., “Welcome back!”) experience with your organization?

This is a combination of data collection, technology, and internal process that, combined with empowering your employees, can transform your organization.

Better service equals better marketing. The next time I spill something on my technology (and I will) I can promise you that it will be made by Apple.

Learn More about PatronManager, the powerful CRM platform that helps you sell more tickets, raise more money, and cultivate stronger bonds with your audience, all in one database.