According to Dictionary.Com, a VIP is a very important person, a dignitary, a high muck amuck. Wikipedia defines it as a person who is accorded special privileges due to his or her status or importance. I define it as arrogant.
I have been the beneficiary of special VIP lines into nightclubs, concerts, hotel check-ins, and other forms of “special treatment” based on who I knew, how much money I spend, or who knew me. It feels great to get treated better than others, but I have reconsidered the term VIP.
I was disembarking from a week’s cruise with my two daughters yesterday. The lines were terribly long, and it appeared that we were in for a long wait. But as I was walking to our stateroom to gather the rest of my belongings before disembarking, I overheard a guest at another doorway with no lines, asking if this was the VIP station for disembarking. The answer was yes. I have to say it made me feel awful. What could possibly make them more special than me? Is it the amount of money they had spent on the ship, were they celebrities who needed to avoid the paparazzi? Whatever the reason, it made me feel a bit cheated, and I felt like one of the “sweaty masses.”
As business owners, we want to give recognition to our best customers. But it should never be at the exclusion of the customers that provide us with the majority of our income. The cruise line couldn’t survive without “regular people” like me. We are the backbone of their sales.
So how do you deliver exceptional customer service to everyone but still recognize that there are some customers who want and deserve VIP treatment? First, lets get rid of the label VIP. The only very important person is one that has your life in their hands. They are very important because if they mess up, you could be dead. Maybe they are VPCs (Very Profitable Clients), but wait, if they know how profitable they are, they may think you are over charging them. How about BSG (not bull s*$#, but Big Spenders Group)? Airlines call them frequent flyers, and everyone seems to be ok with their special treatment because their treatment is earned.
Devising a program that rewards customers for their loyalty, and gets them special treatment, should be accessible to every customer. In short, everyone should get a shot at earning special treatment. Let your customers know that they are all appreciated, but can get special privileges by meeting certain well-defined criteria. So, the next time your customers see a special line or someone getting extra special treatment, they will know what they have to do to earn that privilege.