Earrings, hot water and napkins

I have been huggedOur interactions with any business is often not with the owner who is passionately pursuing his/her purpose but with an employee who is working hard to earn a wage. It’s important to remember that employees provide the public face to your enterprise and they need to feel just as passionate as you do and be there giving your customers HUGs too!

Company The Rathbone Hotel.
What they do
(from website)
.The Rathbone is located off Charlotte Street in the heart of London’s West End district now fashionably known as “NOHO”, close to many of the Capital’s most popular sites and attractions. The hotel is within easy walking distance of numerous Underground (subway) stations (Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, and Goodge Street to name but three), providing quick and easy travel to and around all areas of London including the City financial district and easy connections to London’s Main Line railway stations. Taxis are on hand and numerous bus routes can be accessed on Oxford Street, which is only a brief walk away.
The experience I went there with a colleague for a business meeting. We sat in the restaurant on comfy chairs whilst we waited for the person we were due to meet to arrive. We ordered water which was delivered in a tall and exquisite bottle and we sat deep in conversation. I noticed that I had lost an earring but as I could not find it about my person conceded to the fact that it was gone forever. If I was writing a play this would be the time that a handsome stranger came in to save the day!  
The HUG The conversation was interrupted (not by a handsome stranger) by a polite waitress who handed me back my earring and noted that a gentlemen (so there was a handsome stranger in there after all) had noticed it on the floor. I thanked her but what she said next surprised me. She offered to bring me a bowl of hot water and napkins so that I could sterilize the earring before putting it back in my ear.  
Verdict I have to admit that it never occurred to me to sterilize the earring before putting it back in its rightful place but when she suggested that course of action it was obvious!Now I have never seen or heard of something like that before. It was over and above the call of duty and added extra value to my interaction with that hotel and even though the prices were quite high I will go there again. I felt hugged!

Coffee, connections and hot chocolate

I have been huggedCustomer care takes so little effort but has a huge impact on the recipient and I’m also0 convinced that acts of kindness directed towards customers not only makes a huge difference to them but also to the person delivering the hug.

Company Charing Cross Hotel Lounge
What they do
(from website)
The Lounge’s high ceilings and tall windows are as they were in 1865. Combine this with the very best in contemporary furnishings and you have a calm, sumptuous space in which to relax while you have a bite or afternoon tea.
The experience The person I was meeting uses the Charing Cross Hotel Lounge on a regular basis and as we sat chatting in the bright and airy space she informed me that the lounge had a minimum charge of £20 so unless we were going to have lunch we should move to the bar. As I was not in the mood for lunch I agreed and we picked up our coats and bags and moved to the next room which was a lot darker and much less appealing but there was not £20 minimum spend. We ordered hot chocolate and coffee respectively and settled down for our chat.
The HUG I looked up from my hot chocolate to find a waiter standing by our table. He addressed my companion by name and asked her why we had moved into this room. She explained that as we were not thinking about lunch £20 was a bit steep. He smiled (a smile always helps) and told us to come back to the lounge and not to worry about the £20. How could you refuse an offer like that! We got up to gather our things and he told us not to worry he would carry everything over. He picked up our jackets, the coffee and the hot chocolate and accompanied us to the Lounge where he found us a comfortable seat near the window and then he was gone.
Verdict The waiter went the extra mile. He went out of his way to serve us and make us feel comfortable and was looking for nothing in return. I felt hugged!

Food, stairs and helping hands

I have been huggedYour customers may not remember what you say but they will always remember the way you made them feel. I have to admit to being a bit challenged by stairs and so many people organise events with little thought for those for whom mobility may be a bit of a challenge (yes that was a gripe!).

Changing the structure of a building to accommodate is often not practical but changing the attitude of the connection with management and staff makes a huge difference.

Company Chapters Blackheath
What they do
(from website)
Chapters stylish yet unpretentious eatery with a convivial atmosphere. Come in any time of the day for a quick coffee and a snack or something more substantial. We have two AA rosettes and a coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand, so you can be sure of superb quality as well as value for money. 
The experience I attend a monthly networking event that takes place in the downstairs dining room. The stairs are a bit of a challenge and there is no lift. I must admit to feeling a bit annoyed when I attended for the first time. Just another example of people who don’t care.
The HUG As I looked at the stairs and contemplated my next move one of the waiters came to my aid and asked me if I needed help. He smiled and was pleasant how could I refuse such an offer. After we worked out that he would not carry me down the stairs (he actually offered) he offered to escort me and I held his arm as we descended (I always like to make an entrance). And after my meal he came to escort me back upstairs. And that’s not all I have been back and he has been willingly waiting to escort me up and down the stairs.
Verdict The waiter went the extra mile. He didn’t make me feel awkward or an inconvenience. He treated me instead as though I was special. I felt hugged!

Water, fresh air and biscuits – A great Business HUG

Employees are just as much a part (perhaps even more so) of the delivery of a Hug to your customers but in order for this to be effective they need to be Heard, Understood and Given incredible value (HUGged) too. Hug your employees and you will be amazed just how far they will go to make your customers feel special.

Company De Vere Hotels – Highfield Park. Queen Anne Mansion set in 35 acres of beautiful parkland on the Hampshire border.
What they do
(from website)
De Vere Hotels, Venues and VILLAGE. Our inspiring and beautiful properties, impeccable service and expertise, for business and for leisure, means we offer our guests an environment in which to relax and, most importantly, be productive.
The experience I chose the hotel and location because they offered a great deal for a two night stay. It was a great choice, as I wanted to get away to relax, recharge and reorder my thoughts. I was also looking for a place where my laptop and myself could work happily, uninterrupted together.The hotel was set in the middle of acres of green with plenty of trees and horses nearby. It was approximately a 2hr drive from London and, with the aid of my sat nav easy to find.
The HUG I found myself a spot in the vestibule of where I was staying. Here I could put my feet up, plug in my laptop, and get to work. It was a beautiful day and I had propped open the front door to get some fresh air. John, one of the workers, came and put water in the water cooler and opened the back door for me. We briefly exchanged pleasantries and he left and I went back to my writing.About 30 minutes later, John returned with biscuits and snacks and simply said “I thought your could use these.”He was right, I could!
Verdict John didn’t need to do that. The location and the amenities were already working for me but he went the extra mile. My opinion of De Vere hotels has risen. I felt important and special and have already booked my next break away and furthermore I’m sharing the story with you and lots of other people. I felt hugged!

Going virtual with a cup of coffee – A great Business HUG

Hugs come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it is not what you expected or even intended it to be. The one thing that is clearly important is to step into the shoes of the customer because they are looking at the world through a different lens to yours.

Company A Virtual PA company (didn’t get the name)
What they do
(Wikipedia)
Provide support services for small businesses and business owners.
The experience Tamsin enlisted their services to provide administrative support for her business and free up her time to be creative and work on the business.The Virtual PA Company offered an incentive to encourage referrals of £50 off the bill. Tamsin said this was good but as she was already going to pay the full price and it was coming from her business account it did nothing to wow her.
The HUG Although the company had Tamsin’s business and had already received the new business it went the extra degree.After Tamsin had given her first referral and received her £50 discount she thought that was the end of it but it wasn’t. A few days later she received a handwritten note (through the post) to say ‘thank you’ and in it was a £5 Starbucks voucher.
Verdict Tamsin admits to being more enamored with the £5 voucher because, whilst the £50 discount was great, the £5 gesture felt more personal. It felt like it was for her.

Fruit, Shopping and Connections – A Great Business HUG

Some companies go out of their way to HUG their customers. They don’t always get it right but beginning with the HUG is mind goes a long way to making it a success.

Company Apple inc.
What they do
(Wikipedia)
Apple Inc. designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company’s best-known products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.We all know Apple as the company that has revolutionized personal computing and computer shopping.
The experience I love apple (I even have pictures of me opening my first Macbook Pro) and not just because of the products they sell, but because of the whole shopping experience.I went into the Apple Store in Covent Garden recently more to browse than to purchase and got talking to a sales associate who simply asked me questions about my experience with Apple and what brought me into the store that day (not in the least uncomfortable or intrusive).When he heard I was in business he quickly talked about the ways in which Apple could help me as a business owner. He told me about the workshops Apple held to help people make the most of their products and took my card with the promise that someone would contact me.
The HUG Where shall I start? The whole ‘shopping’ experience with Apple is a hug. No assistants to hastle you, no one looking over your shoulder. You can go into the store to try products, check email, and compose. I actually know of someone who is composing a piece of music and goes into apple everyday to add to the piece he has saved.After the encounter with the young man (whose name I forget) I booked a workshop where I had one to one tuition on a particular piece of software. I happened to mention I was thinking of buying a new Macbook and a few days latter I got an email from Jason introducing himself and letting me know that he is available for help and advice when I finally decide to make the purchase.
Verdict Yes I am going to buy a Macbook and I will buy it in store rather than online and I will get in touch with Jason to help me with my purchase simply because I enjoyed the experience.