I can still remember my first visit to a Doubletree Hilton.
Typically, I’m loyal to Marriott, but my colleague booked the room for me with their last-minute meeting request. I raced to their airport to catch the first flight I could from Chicago to San Francisco — and then sat on the runway for about two hours before taking off. It was nearly 1am by the time I was checking into the hotel for an 8am meeting the next morning.
And then — right as she handed over my room key — the receptionist opened a drawer and produced a paper sleeve containing two warm chocolate chip cookies.
It was completely unexpected, and the little bit of chocolate delighted my “still operating like it’s 3am Chicago time” body. Twenty years later, I still remember that moment.
That’s why today (on #NationalChocolateChipCookieDay) I’m thinking a lot about suprise and delight.
Regardless of your profession, there are all sorts of moments where your business intersects with the humanity of your clients, partners, and employees.
Difficults are sometimes are unforseen, but often can predicted. Very late night hotel check in? Customer care call that starts after a 30 minute wait? Refunding defective merchandize? Your customer is probably going to be frustrated.
The best brands have anticiapted this, and engineered moments of delight right when you will need them most — the warm cookie in the middle of the night, the bag of candy sent to an employee on their wedding anniversary — they’re small, inexpensive things that make a big difference.
Others have empowered their employees to use discretion in the field to create surprises with big impact. Theme park workers are given spending allowances they can use to replace a crying child’s flown-away balloon or dropped ice cream cone, and banks have a variety of dog treats and candy on hand to entertain whoever is accompanying their clients for extended visits.
I recently sold a vintage home, and the buyer flagged a slow-running drain in their final walkthrough. I called my usual plumber to fix it in the few hours I had before the closing was scheduled to occur. When he came, he told me there’d be no charge — it took him five mintues to fix, I’d been a loyal customer, and he new the chaos of moving must have meant this was one additional expense I proabably didn’t want to deal with at the moment. He’ll definitely keep my business in my new home — and I gave his contact information to the new owner, too.
As we celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, then, I also encourage us to take a look at the interactions we have with others at work — as well as ways that we can bring them suprise and delight in our interactions.
While we’re thinking, here’s a recipe for those great Doubletree Cookies, courtesy of Hilton:
DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe
Makes 26 cookies
- ½ pound butter, softened (2 sticks)
- ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch cinnamon
- 2 2/3 cups Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 3/4 cups chopped walnuts
Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl.
With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix.
Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.
Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.
Cook’s note: You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.