You're an airline. Two passengers are standing in line at your customer service counter. Both have middle seats for an almost-full cross-country flight. One paid full price for his tickets, the other went through an online bidding service, paid a fraction of the cost, and didn't even know he was going to be getting your airline.
You have one aisle seat left. Both these passengers are in middle seats. You can move one of them to an aisle, making him very happy indeed. The other will remain where he was, none the wiser.
Who gets the seat?
Don't answer yet.
The one who paid full price is also a frequent flyer in your prestigious 100K club and has logged many thousands of miles so far this year again, and looks like he'll maintain his elite status on your airline's program with no problem. The other guy? Not even a member of the program.
Now who gets the upgrade?
If you're like most companies, you'll fall over yourself to cater to the whims of the frequent flyer and will almost ignore the new guy.
And you'll be wrong.
It's a math game, really. What is the likelihood that your premiere executive elite program businessman will suddenly decide to change airlines? What is the likelihood that the other guy will?
Now, what's the impact on that decision of a small upgrade in comfort? For the businessman, it's practically expected. It won't change much about his perception of your airline. But for the other guy, it has much greater potential. To receive a free upgrade on top of a discounted ticket is very unexpected.
The greatest impact that upgrade will have, then, is on the new guy. The one who didn't pay much. The one with no brand loyalty.
Too often, we spend all our time servicing our loyal and long-standing customers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they don't deserve great customer service. But our greatest efforts, those special moments when we can reach out and make a huge difference for someone? Those moments deserve to be applied where they have the greatest reach, and that can take some effort on our part to identify.
Looking in our pool of regulars is easy. Look beyond, though, and you'll find customers who will often appreciate the effort more, and whose loyalty is there for the asking. Make a difference for these customers and you may well add them to your stable of regulars where they will require less regular gestures "above and beyond" as long as your usual service standards are up to snuff.
Make a difference.
Change some lives.
Deliver some happiness. Grow some smiles in unexpected places. Do it today.
Your business will thank you.