Two weeks soaking up the sun and splashing around in tepid aqua-green waters with my family in Fiji made coming back to Melbourne in the depths of winter feel a tad depressing.
However, armed with these magical memories I was deeply touched by this charmed place and more so by its beautiful people.
After a five hour flight and 90 minute boat ride, our weary eyes landed upon a miniscule island off into the distance. As we approached the shore, strumming guitars and gentle voices singing tickled our ears. We were here. Paradise.
As the kids excitedly leaped from the boat, we were greeted with beaming smiles that spouted, “BULA!”, hello in the native tongue. I then heard two striking words that literally stopped me dead in my tracks….
“Welcome home.” Announced one of our greeters, her companion then said it too, “Welcome home” and then others repeated this greeting.
Welcome home? This struck me as odd at first, but then a warm feeling swept over me. Hmmm yes, it does feel like home. It’s my first time here, but it feels like home. Not the grains of sand beneath my feet, but the warm, generous feelings the locals quickly initiated through their initial greeting.
Let’s leave the tropics for a moment, sadly, and cast our minds back closer to home. I tend to giggle when I hear organisations spruik the virtues of their culture. If it’s true, it’s rare. If you’re talking about exceptional culture, the bench mark for me are these little obscure places that foster community and team spirit. Where the people are humble and genuinely care about how you feel.
And, the most glaring mark of this type of culture is consistency. I’ll say it again, consistency: Consistent behaviour that is grounded and driven by deep-seated values. No one thinks about it, it’s just how things are done.
At Castaway Island everyone says “Bula” as you walk past, their eyes are always up and they smile, not just when they feel like it. This feels like respect. It feels like manners. It’s called culture. Imagine walking into a business and getting some good old ‘Bula’ treatment, not just randomly, every time you went there.
As you can imagine, our two weeks in paradise flew at light speed! Before we knew it, we were back in Melbourne, tanned and relaxed from our experience. A week later, the below postcard lobbed into our home mailbox, (not email box.)
My first thought was, who on earth is sending me a handwritten postcard! As I began to read the card, in my frozen winter state, I began to feel the same warmth that swept over me on Castaway Island. Welcome home, I thought… mmm yes, and we’ll be coming home again next year.
Exceptional (world-class) customer service isn’t hard, but it takes thought. It’s often the simple and less sensational stuff that makes the biggest impact and leaves a lasting impression. Never forget this and your customers won’t forget you.