Say “amazing” customer service, and what comes to mind? Best of the best? Try thinking of it in a new way – delivering customer service that is consistently above average. You might be thinking, that could mean just a little bit above the average. And you’re right – but the key word here is “consistently.” Deliver above average service all the time so that the customer can count on it, and it becomes the expectation.

Now I’m not saying to shoot for just being slightly above average, but to create exceptional customer service by going above and beyond what is expected. Surprise the customer with “WOW” and “POW” moments.

I recently attended a conference in Plano, Texas, at the Marriott, a nice hotel at the Legacy Town Center. The hotel’s representative for the conference, Alexandria Vanreenen, or Alex, as she prefers to be called, was engaging and helpful. She seemed to be present to assist with every function of the convention, from very early in the morning to the last one each night.

One of the special perks for guests is that this hotel serves some of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. And they are even better when warmed in the microwave. Alex noticed that I was microwaving the cookies for myself and others and asked me about it. I told her my secret formula – microwaving 18 seconds for one cookie, or 22 seconds for three cookies.

During the dessert course at the final night banquet, Alex and the chef emerged from the kitchen carrying a plate of cookies. In the center of the plate was a little sign: “18 Second Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

Now, I do believe that these particular cookies were actually still warm from the oven (and even more delicious), but the point is that the gesture completely impressed my friends at the table. Their opinions of Alex, the chef and the hotel were related in comments such as, “This hotel has the nicest people,” and, “The customer service here is very impressive.”

Was it a hard thing that Alex did? Not really, but that little bit of extra effort had a big impact. She was able to make that impression because of a few simple things that she did well – interacting with her customers/guests, listening to their comments, and, most importantly, acting on what she heard and saw.

She effectively created a “WOW” moment of customer service for a few guests. Chances are, those guests will tell others, and that is major for any business – doing a great job that is noticed and appreciated by customers who then share it with others. You are hearing about it now. Alex had no idea that her actions were being studied by a customer service expert who would include them in a speech, or blog, or newsletter that would be heard or read by thousands of others.

So, watch and listen to your customers. Pay attention to them, and then take what you learn to surprise them with “WOW” moments of customer service. You never know who may be watching you.

News Reporter