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Blog 297: Best Principles Are Better Than Best Practices

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

You may not be able to copy exactly a best practice of a specific business you visit that delights you, but you can copy the spirit or the idea behind it.

Because of what I do, when I am moving around the world, I’m always watching, looking for and noticing what different businesses do to delight and engage their clients and how they do it.

You might not be a hotel, for example, but when you check into a hotel, and they make you feel seen, important and appreciated, you notice. I’m suggesting you should look a little deeper. Consider not the practice but the principle.

The Fours Seasons, Washington DC

As I pulled up in an uber, I was received by a doorman who opened my door; another gathered my bags from the trunk, then I was asked my name and then escorted into the lobby, where my arrival was announced to the front desk. “Sharon, this is Mr. Moseley-Williams. He is checking in with us.” He then wished me a good afternoon and left me under the care of Sharon, who checked me in and then came around the desk to escort me to the elevator.

Checking in was an event.

They were spending more time with me, not less

Wouldn’t it be a great idea if you found a way to duplicate this welcoming experience that The Four Seasons has perfected for your clients at your business? What could you do to meet and greet your guests that would be memorable? What could you do to make people feel expected and to feel that you are genuinely happy to see them?

You may not be able to copy the practice of having a doorman meet, engage, and receive your guests at the front door. But that is all right because having a doorman is the practice.

The principle behind having a doorman is a different matter entirely, and other hotels, financial planning firms, and hardware or shoe stores can duplicate that. In this case, the principle is making someone feel expected, appreciated and welcomed. The idea is that his or her arrival causes, if not at least recognition, then perhaps celebration.

When you pull up to The Four Seasons, that is how the experience is staged so that you will feel that way. Everyone, through his or her actions, more or less says, “Whew. You made it.”

Think about it: I woke up at dark-thirty to get there; I had already driven through my city, cleared customs, stood in some lines, spent some time not so comfortably in a pressurized tube, landed, navigated another airport full of people coughing and then the traffic-choked streets of Georgetown, all the while hauling my bags around. When a team of smiling faces greets you at your car door – outside, not inside – a chorus of ‘welcomes’ and ‘nice to see you, Sirs’ goes a long way.

Spend more time studying the businesses you admire, and don’t think so literally about what they do. Instead, consider how you feel because of what they do.

What are your favourite businesses? What is it that they do that makes you feel so good? Are they big expensive budget-busting initiatives, or are they simple gestures that you can count on?

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