Recently, I went on a much-needed holiday with my wife, daughter, and mother-in-law. We trekked across the border from Lesotho into South Africa where we caught an overnight bus to Cape Town (15-hour bus rides are fine when you’re single; not so much when you’re a parent…). Travel stresses aside, we enjoyed a fantastic week of family fun, relaxation, and rehabilitation from some of the regularly scheduled craziness of our day-to-day lives. It was also my daughter’s first time meeting her grandma in person, making the whole trip a little extra special.
While there, we didn’t waste a moment. My wife, being the planner she is, spent weeks researching the activities we could partake in and created an amazing itinerary for each day. We visited organic food and craft markets, walked along the boardwalk admiring the ocean (also a first for our girl), delighted in the marine life at the aquarium (Nemo, Marlin, and Dory were all present and accounted for), perused a few local book shops, and, of course, enjoyed copious amounts of scrumdidilyumptious cuisine. I definitely put on a few extra pounds, but vacation is for splurging, right?
One of the highlights of the trip for all of us was attending high tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel—yes, even for me! Honestly, I went in with somewhat low expectations. It was meant to be a belated birthday gift for my mother-in-law, and I figured I’d endure a little frivolity for the sake of my girls. My tea palate is fairly limited, and I was certain my tummy would still be grumbly after only having a few cucumber finger sandwiches for lunch. Boy oh boy, I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong in my life.
The hotel and high tea experience were incredibly lavish and, though I’m a fairly simple kind of guy, it was nice to feel a little bit pampered. The various teas we tried were actually quite tasty, particularly a strawberry rooibos that is the favorite among children. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that was my favorite as well. There were indeed cucumber finger sandwiches and while they were very good, they were only one of the options in the first of three courses. Between the finger sandwiches, appetizers, scones, pastries, cakes, and other desserts (all individually portioned, of course) my tummy was definitely not grumbly by the end.
Amidst everything to enjoy at the high tea, what stuck out to me most significantly was the service we received. From a US perspective, we often joke about how customer service is rare at best in southern Africa—at least in our experience. That joke went out the window throughout our high tea journey, though. Our server was an absolute delight, full of witty banter, excellent suggestions, and kind words. She went out of her way time and time again to make sure we always had both what we needed and what we wanted. She carefully noted my wife’s and mother-in-law’s nut allergies so they could enjoy their food and drink without worry. When I accidentally neglected to ask for hot chocolate prepared without dairy-based milk, she provided an entirely new pot made with almond milk at no extra charge. She observed the pace of our table and seamlessly delayed courses at our request so we would never feel rushed. Most notably, she interacted with our six-year-old daughter as a real person, asking her what she would like and how she was doing. She even took her on a special little walk, gave her some extra sweets, and introduced her to the hotel’s kitty. To say we were impressed would be a drastic understatement.
In the end, our incredible server was what made our high tea experience as phenomenal as it was. We felt heard, respected, and cared for every step of the way. When it was time to go, not only had she earned a great tip, but we also genuinely wanted to give her one!
This is the kind of service I want to provide in my voiceover business. I want prospective clients to have their expectations blown out of the water. I want them to hope for a good experience and leave having had an extraordinary one. I want them to feel heard, respected, and cared for every step of the way. The last thing I expected to gain from attending high tea on my Cape Town holiday was a crash course in excellent customer service. But along with a satisfied tummy and some cherished memories, that’s precisely what I got. I’ve often heard the key to good business is to under-promise and over-deliver. Having experienced that firsthand, I can say with confidence that it’s 100% true.
What has been one of your best customer service experiences? And one of your worst? How have those experiences informed how you approach interacting with other people, whether they be clients, or the people present in your everyday life? Voiceover is most certainly a service-oriented industry, and I am grateful to have great service experiences to apply to my own business in the future.
Oh, and if you’ve never done so, I highly recommend attending high tea. You never know what you might take away from it.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller
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