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Creating Marva-lous Customer Service

Maybe it’s time to re-think your goal of customer satisfaction.

My family and I spent the entire day driving through a torrential downpour to get to an important event three states away. Both of our kids were cranky and miserable which meant my wife and I were cranky and miserable. We all were ready to get to our hotel and out of the car. I thought it might be a good idea to call ahead and make sure everything was in order at our hotel, but when I got the hotel desk clerk on the phone, I learned that we had a huge problem.

“I’m sorry, sir. I just can’t promise you that your two rooms will be adjoining,” she said.

I had made my reservation a month earlier and specifically requested adjoining rooms because one of my kids has a health problem and needs to be monitored throughout the night. But the hotel clerk couldn’t have cared less. “I’m sorry, sir. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Well, I thought, there is something I can do about it, so I looked up the phone number for their competitor located right across the street. I dialed the number and spoke to Marva, who became one of my all-time biggest customer service heroes.

What Over-and-Above Customer Service Looks Like

Marva listened patiently to my dilemma and then immediately took charge, telling me that not only would she be happy to accommodate my requests, but she would also match the other hotel’s price. I also asked Marva if we could get an additional cot in one of the rooms for my sister-in-law who had come along with us, and she told me she would see what she could do.

When we arrived, Marva greeted us like long-lost relatives, offering us bottles of water and cookies. As she was checking us in, she told me that, unfortunately, all their cots were being used, so she offered to give us an additional room for my sister-in-law at no charge!

I happily accepted her offer and then ushered my family upstairs to our rooms. As my wife and I hurriedly dressed for our event that evening, I discovered that I had forgotten my belt. It was after 6:00 on a Saturday night and most of the clothing stores were already closed. I called Marva and asked if she had any idea where I could buy a belt at that hour. She asked me what size I wore and then told me she would see what she could do. Five minutes later she called me back and told me she had a belt for me in my size. How’s that even possible?

After our event, my wife and I returned to the hotel and put the kids to bed. Somewhere around 2:00 a.m., my son got sick and refunded all the Goldfish he had been munching on all day. As we cleaned him up, I volunteered to go downstairs and get fresh sheets. I wadded up all the sheets that were painted with half-digested Goldfish into a giant ball and carried them at arm’s-length downstairs to the front desk. I explained the situation to Marva and offered to place the offending sheets directly into the washing machine so nobody else would have to touch them. But Marva took those sheets from me as if I were giving her a bouquet of flowers and told me she would handle it.

When we awoke the next morning, we found a hand-made get well card for my son that had been slipped under our door.

Now whenever I return to that area, guess where I always stay?

Why Customer Satisfaction Isn’t Your Goal

Marva knew that the goal in business isn’t customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers don’t brag about your business. They pay for your goods or service, are reasonably satisfied with what they receive, and then go their merry way. They may or may not come back and do business with you again.

But customers that receive extraordinary service, well, that’s a different story. Those people go and tell everyone they know about their amazing experience with your business. They become your business’s ambassadors. They are transformed into advertising you can’t buy. They not only become repeat customers themselves, but they multiply themselves many times over. And sometimes, they even write customer service articles about you.

So which kind of customer do you want? A satisfied customer, or one that thinks you’re Marva-lous? And what do you plan to do today to make that happen?

© 2019 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site  or contact him via e-mail at

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