Wouldn’t it be nice to be served by a company that not only fulfills your needs to the letter but does it cheerfully and efficiently, and better yet - actually anticipates what you might need in advance?

It happened to me this week and I am happy to share with you a little story about the brand that brought a smile to my face - it was Interflora, the world’s largest flower delivery company which celebrated its 90th anniversary last month.

For any company to survive 90 years is impressive and it takes a serious focus on service as well as a willingness to move with the times. In fact, Interflora traces its roots to an idea two florists in the United States had back in 1910 when they decided to telegraph orders to each other from opposites side of the country in order to avoid the disappointment of blooms arriving wilted or withering after long journeys on stuffy railcars.

The company was established in the UK in 1923, starting up with a nursery in Essex and a florist in Glasgow and grew rapidly, extending its reach even to outer space, when it took an order from the Mir space station from Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman who wanted to send flowers to her mum back on planet Earth - now that is really going the extra mile.

Many of us find it a struggle to remember all of the birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates relating to our friends and families and it seems to get harder not easier because we’re all processing so much information these days. So, I was surprised but pleased this week to get a text reminding me that I’d sent flowers for my aunt’s birthday on that date last year and could they help again. Phew - a family faux-pas avoided - so I decided to place an order.

I placed the order by phone with a very nice lady who helped me select a bouquet and then said she’d pass me on to an automated system to handle payment. My heart sank at the thought of my pleasant retail experience being negated by having to navigate a clunky series of IVR menu choices. However it involved simple choices, punching in a few details and job done - a beautiful bouquet was dispatched to my grateful aunt.

It’s perhaps not cutting-edge in terms of channel integration but for a time-poor purchaser, the swift and seamless segue from voice to IVR and time taken from purchase to dispatch rated as a highly satisfactory experience. The added touch of anticipating my needs was the element that converted me into a Net Promoter.

In a complex world, sometimes it’s getting the simple things right that makes a difference - although without smart thinking about linking up data and systems, that may not be possible.

Amazon set a new bar for using customer buying habits to anticipate their needs and to offer ‘recommendations’, that kind of thinking is becoming more mainstream but for many organisations barriers remain to emulating this approach. Overcoming them is more important than ever to achieve an intelligent blend of personalised and automated service that puts a smile on your customer’s face, even without a bunch of flowers.