I love when great hotels offer nice amenities. Some include a newspaper in the morning, complimentary bottles of water, a piece of chocolate on the nightstand… You get the idea.
Notice I didn’t say expensive or fancy hotel.  I used the word “great.” Sometimes you don’t have to be expensive or fancy to WOW the customer the way expensive and fancy hotels do.  
In other words, great doesn’t always mean expensive and fancy.  Regardless of the price, it’s the combination of the customer’s experience, which might include an amenity, and most important, the people that makes the hotel great.
And, it’s the same with any company in virtually any industry.  
Any company can start to level the competitive playing field by delivering amazing customer service, a great experience and an amenity or two.  For the purpose of this article, I want to focus on the amenities a company can offer.

The Real WOW Factor

Like I said, you don’t need something lavish to wow your customer. A simple add-on can work wonders. An amenity is something extra you provide your customers.  It adds value to their experience.  
You may be familiar with my story of Frank, the cab driver.  If not, please go to my YouTube channel and be amazed with the level of service and the “amenities” the cab driver offered me in the form of newspapers, complimentary soft drinks and more.
What prompted me to write this article came as a result of a hotel stay in Des Moines, IA.  This is a hotel that you would describe as low priced at $49 per night, but still offered the same level of guest service that some of its much higher priced competitors offered.  In addition, they surprised me with an amenity that rivaled even some of the highest priced hotels in the area.

Save the Fancy Mints for the Big Guys 

The rooms were very simple and clean. It was the basic hotel room you would expect for the price paid.  The people were as friendly and helpful as you would ever hope for. And when I checked in, the front desk clerk shared that while they weren’t a fancy hotel, they prided themselves on their friendly service.  Anything I needed, just ask.  And, then she handed me a bottle of water and took out a basket filled with jumbo-sized candy bars.  
She went on to explain that they don’t put fancy mints on the pillow, but they like the guest to have something nice and sweet for their room.
The candy bar and a bottle of water cost about a dollar, which cost the hotel about 2% of the room rate.  However, that 2% cost is a customer service, marketing, branding and reputation strategy that makes their guests want to come back to their hotel the next time they are in the area.

Great Customer Experience Found in a Candy Bar

My point is that this hotel, with friendly people and an inexpensive amenity (the candy bar), can compete, at least in the customer service arena, with some of the more notable brands in the hospitality industry.  
The jumbo candy bar was their hook.  That’s what made them stand out.  That is what made their customer experience.
Any business can copy this concept.  Know what market you’re in to be competitive.  Then, be fairly priced, offer great service and come up with the hook – your version of the jumbo-size candy bar.

Bringing Big Customer Experience Online, Too

Much like this hotel, you can make sure that your website is able to wow your customer. Using behavior-based web personalization - like personalized messages, pop-ups, or prompts - goes a long way with customers. 
It lets them know that you understand them and are paying attention to their needs.
Another option is to just pick up the phone and be a human being. Look at Rackspace - they take tech customer experience to a whole new level. 
Rackspace has ordered pizza for their customers and called them up to sing them Happy Birthday. That’s not everyday customer experience, that’s big candy bar customer experience.
No matter your industry or your kind of business, you can provide this kind of service and experience. You must.

About the Author

Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business go to http://www.hyken.com.