Well, the other day, I got exactly what was coming to me.
Stop number one on Mr. Grumpy’s Saturday morning round of complaints was Kohl’s, where I had purchased some V-neck Hanes underwear shirts the previous week. Hanes had been my client for many years, so I fully expected their products to perform as advertised. This time, they did not. Despite careful washing before wearing (and scrupulously following laundering instructions), the shirts shrunk at least two sizes, which put the hem just above my navel. Not a pretty sight – and damned uncomfortable.
So I entered Kohl’s that morning surrounded by my usual haze of low expectations, expecting to be told there was nothing they could do about it and the next time I should buy my underwear two sizes larger. However, a young man named Charles at the customer service desk cheerfully acknowledged my problem and sent me to fetch another pack of underwear, one size larger this time just in case. It wasn’t long before I was out the door a little lighter of spirit – and (at least for the moment) a thoroughly satisfied Kohl’s customer.
When I arrived, Clerk #1 was chatting on the phone about some arcane vacuum cleaner technology and ignored me. Grrrrr! Clerk #2 was doing a demo for a harried-looking couple with a bored child – and I had to admit, her demo was unusually good and filled with useful product benefits. After a minute or so, she looked up from the pile of dust she’d just tossed on the carpet for her prospect to vacuum up, caught my eye and walked to the service counter.
“How can I help you today?” she chirped.
“My Oreck isn’t doing a good job. “
“How’s that?” (gently stated)
“It picks up practically nothing – just blows air around. I have to pick stuff up with my fingers.”
“How long has it been doing that?”
“Years. Almost forever.”
At that, she reached down under the counter and retrieved something, which she held up between two fingers, swinging it tantalizingly back in forth in front of my eyes. A circular rubber thing, about four inches in diameter.
“I think your belt is broken.”
“I didn’t know I had a belt.”
“If the belt is broken, the beater bar won’t turn and the motor will just suck air. Like you said.”
“How much is a belt?”
“Two for ten-bucks.”
“How ‘bout one for five bucks? I only need one.” (with only the tiniest glimmer of grumpiness).
She placed the belt in my hand as I fumbled for my wallet.
“Put that away.”
“You’re GIVING me this belt?”
“Yes,” she said, eyes darting back to where her prospects had finished cleaning up the demo carpet and were at work convincing their kid that the upright vacuum they had decided to buy was, in fact, a dust robot.
“Why … thanks!” I said (really meaning it). “You’ve made my day.”
Which was true.
TakeAway: Employees with the privilege of customer interaction can make a huge and lasting difference. Choose these goodwill ambassadors wisely – and pay them what they’re worth, because the value they add to your business or brand can be priceless.