If an interaction with a vendor is pleasant, solves a problem quickly and leaves you feeling good, it’s actually a bit of a shock these days.  But a visit to Newport, RI last week demonstrated that customer service still lives and that there are many “linchpins” who walk among us going above and beyond their specific task.   To be sure the luxurious hotel where we stayed, Vanderbilt Hall, was a textbook for how one should treat a guest.  Everything about that hotel is focused on making sure the guest feels treasured–from the wonderful spa to the front desk staff to Monty, the owner’s personable long-haired chihuahua, to colorful owner Peter de Savary to the bellman who walked us to the street to make sure we knew the way to our destination.

But the wonderful service didn’t just extend to our hotel.  Shop keepers were friendlier than most and in a neighborhood restaurant where we had breakfast The Franklin Spa, which was not a fancy place at all, the waitresses were top notch.  One, it turns out, is from my home town and we traded stories about it.

I haven’t mentioned yet the wonderful things to do in Newport: the tours of the mansions, the Newport Musical Festival, the beaches, the sailing, etc. All of these are terrific.  But I think what I will remember most was the welcoming feeling and the sense that Newporters enjoy having guests.  They wanted me to enjoy the experience.

If more businesses could figure this out and treat their customers better, it would likely build loyalty and improve the bottom line.  Does providing excellent customer service–a smile, a “can-do,” we’ll make it right attitude–cost that much?  Why don’t more businesses insist that their employees take care of the customer? What do you think?