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Earlier this year, I was on a flight back from China and was ordering some tea on the plane. The experience inspired a thought which I had to share with you.

It all starts with a cough

You see after I had delivered my speaking engagement in China, I came down with a pretty bad cough. Travelling with a cough is terrible, especially on a plane!

So, in an effort to try and suppress this horrible scratch in my throat, I had to keep asking for tea. I pressed the call button and asked for the hot drink from the air hostess. The very kind woman brought me a steaming cup of tea with a big smile on her face.

The hot water soothed my throat for a total of about 5 seconds before I had to press the call button to request another. After three rounds of this, she came to me with a Chamomile tea bag for my cup and a big flask of hot water. “Just let me know if you need it refilled. Hope you feel better soon.”

I was so incredibly grateful for her initiative as I definitely needed many more cups of tea – but would never have thought to have asked if they had a flask. (In fact, I had to even ask for that flask to be refilled!)

Reflecting on her behaviour, I really had to admire her work ethic – and I realised there was a real lesson here for business owners.

This is exemplary of “exceptional”

I would call this a very good example of what “exceptional customer service” means. Most of our clients are in service industries, and many of them work with ultra-high net worth individuals. These are the kind of customer for whom nothing but the best is tolerated – and better than the best is expected.

This air hostess is an example of an employee that applied herself to the situation and went above and beyond what was asked of her in order to achieve the best result. Her priority was not, “Do what is on my job description.” It was, “Do what makes these passengers as comfortable as possible.”

This kind of thinking is what should be applied across your business when working with customers and clients. And you, personally, should be holding yourself to that standard in the way you work with your team, and the way you organise yourself.

Your employee’s behaviour begins with your behaviour

If you are reading this and thinking, “How do I get my team members to exhibit that kind of initiative and care?” Well, the answer is probably in the mirror.

You set the culture in your business. You are the one deciding how many team meetings you have, and you – the business leader – should be steering the boat and guiding where priorities sit. You should be reminding your team to resist proxies and showing them what level is tolerated.

If you’re looking for your employees to exhibit exceptional customer service, then you need to provide exceptional leadership and management. Upskill the way you lead and you will increase the output of your whole business.

I’ll just leave you with one final lesson from my tea-drinking on a plane – if you’re going to drink that much tea on a plane, it’s wise to make sure you’ve got an aisle seat and aren’t seated too far from the toilets!

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