Greetings. It's the last week of July and once again our daughter Carly has just finished four fun-filled weeks at summer camp in the mountains of Pennsylvania. This was her second summer at camp and she approached her return with a sense of great joy and anticipation–in marked contrast to last year when she felt slightly more than a bit of trepidation at the thought of going to a strange place so far from home. And, as someone who never went to camp, I must admit, that there seems to be something magic about summer camp for a lot of kids.
Last year I wrote some wonderful customer service lessons from Carly's camp, and this year two more powerful ideas stuck in my mind. The first was our arrival when all of the counselors and the director lined the road through camp greeting returning campers with cheers of "Welcome Home." The notion that this place was each camper's home away from home was an exciting and comforting start to the customer experience.
The second idea was embodied in the simple white T-shirt each camper received as they were about to leave. A T-shirt that would serve as a perfect canvas for collecting messages of affection from new and old friends. On the front it said "Camp Harlam" and on the back it said: "Where Friends Become Family." The notion that this was a place where each camper would build the closest of relationships with bunkmates from many places and counselors from half way around the world.
The feeling that I belong and that I have built compelling relationships that really matter.
Isn't that what every customer longs for? A simple formula mastered by the finest summer camps. And that can be understood and mastered by all of our companies and organizations.
We win in business and in life when we understand the real power of coming home. And when we really dare to make customers a part of our family.