National Customer Service Week is October 7-11, 2013. It is a week we spotlight the power and prosperity found in delivering an innovative customer experience. For the next nine days, we will offer a key principle you can use to elevate the delight in your customers’ experience. We begin with the Cracker Jack Principle.

Consider a common service experience: Taking a shuttle bus from the off-airport car rental lot to the terminal. A quintessentially unremarkable event? Not in Atlanta, at least not when Archie Bostick is driving the Hertz bus. After you turn in your car and go outside to catch the bus, the first thing you notice is Archie standing next to the doors with a big, welcoming grin on his face––and he’s having a great time reinvigorating this experience. Instead of a tip jar (baited with a handful of bucks to encourage reluctant tippers), Archie paper-clips dollar bills across the front of his shirt. Nothing subtle about that ploy—it’s an attention-getter that announces this is going to be a surprising experience.

Once on the bus, Archie delivers a stand-up comedy routine instead of the issuing the standard warning about the consequences of forgetting to turn in the keys to your rental car. He uses any excuse to break into song. (“The next time you’re in Atlanta, maybe there’ll be rain, and you’ll be ‘Singin’ in the rain. I’m singin’ in the rain….’”). As Archie pulls up to the terminal, he announces, “Now that we’re at your final destination, I may never see you again. I want us all to say together, ‘I love Hertz.’” He convinces a crowd of strangers to holler, “I love Hertz” before they get off his bus! As customers exit applauding, they realize they have just witnessed an unexpected free prize inside!

What can you do to apply the CRACKER JACK Principle? Pretend the service that you deliver is like your customer’s birthday. The best gifts are those that contain a delightful surprise. Like Archie, put on your “little kid” creative hat and consider ways to make your service silly, funny, whimsical or quaint. Better yet, ask a kid for ideas! Like Cracker Jack, position the surprise in a way that heightens the astonishment and amazement.

Tune in tomorrow to learn about the “Big Boy Event” Principle!