Like many people, as thoughts turn to what the New Year may bring, I pause and reflect on the year gone by and consider what I can learn and be inspired by to help face the challenges ahead. As far as memorable experiences go, I’d like to share a very special story with you that to this very day, still tops my bill as the best customer experience I have ever witnessed in the 23 years since it happened.

My wife and I went on a tour of the school where we were considering enrolling our son. As we made our way back to reception at the end of the tour, to our surprise, the Headmaster suddenly asked if we would like to observe any of the lessons. Of course I said yes, but cynic that I am, expected to be led to a class where the teacher had been primed to expect a visit.

However, I was taken aback when the Headmaster invited us to choose any room we wanted to visit. My wife paused for a moment then pointed to a door. We entered a class of 8 year olds who were having an English and Grammar lesson. The Headmaster asked a young girl to stand up and pass him the book lying on her desk. The Headmaster immediately passed the book to me and said: I would like you to choose any 3 words from this book and this young girl will spell them for you. If she spells any of the words wrongly, I will give you £500. (This equates to over £1000 in today’s money!).

Now, I don’t know what pressure that poor girl felt under, I just remember shaking inside as I very nervously chose 3 of the most awkward sounding words I could find. I promise you, I genuinely did not want the girl to spell any of the words wrong, £500 for me or not! And, to my utter joy, she did spell all 3 words correctly and without hesitation. The class erupted into spontaneous applause. My wife, the Headmaster and I joined in too! I don’t know who was more relieved, the girl or me. She looked calm and collected, while I felt like a nervous wreck! It’s at times like this you feel grateful you are not at school anymore!

When it was quiet enough for him to be heard, the Headmaster thanked the girl and the teacher, then turned to my wife and I and said: I have complete confidence in my staff and the attitude of our pupils to apply themselves, and this is typical of the teaching and learning environment your son will experience, if you decide to enrol him in our school.

Well, I have to say, that done it for me, and it’s an experience I will never ever forget. And, if you forgive the pun, it was also an education to bear witness to the confidence and belief the Headmaster had in his staff, pupils and vision for how the strategy for the school should be achieved and delivered.

Considered from a business perspective, this story can also teach us much about attitude, engagement, leadership, commitment, teamwork and so much more, as well as how to deliver a memorable customer experience, not just for parents, but pupils too.

Story telling is a great way to help get a message across. Take time to reflect on your favourite customer experience stories. Share them with others and inspire them to learn from your experiences. Encourage others to share their favourite customer experience stories too.

At this time of year in particular, sharing is an important activity. I hope you enjoyed learning about my favourite customer experience story, and look forward to hearing your favourite stories in future editions of the Customer Experience Magazine.

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