For those select few that are determined to provide the World with amazing customer service, I am going to share with you one of my favorite customer moments. I usually save this story for a great team builder on customer service, but I want the World to have a chance to share it with others.
I was working for a copying service provider in a small town in Missouri. There was a customer that came in and was crying and very upset. Puzzled and cautious I approached her and asked if there was anything that I could help out with. She told me she simply wanted a few invitation cards made up for her daughter’s birthday and she would be back in a few minutes.
I took a leap of faith and asked if she was okay, and to no surprise she wasn’t. She opened up and told me that her son was diagnosed with a disorder that made it extremely difficult for him to read the same way most people can. I never figured out the exact condition, but she said she had done her own research and found out that different colors of print make it easier for some kids to read with her son’s condition.
She told me that she would have to special order her son’s school books so that he would be able to read, she added that it was small price to pay for him to be able to get the same education as all of the other kids. After talking for a while she left me with her copy order and I got to work right away so she could pick them up early, it was the least I could do for her.
As she left the parking lot I couldn’t help but feel that I could do something to help this customer. I wasn’t a doctor, a therapist, I honestly wasn’t even friends with this customer, but I have always been driven to serve our customers. After a few moments of thinking, I ran and grabbed every color of construction paper we had in the store. I was able to dig up 7 different colors and as I headed back to the copier I grabbed my last tool, a box of sheet protectors.
I photocopied all 7 colors onto the sheet protectors, put them in a special folder with her son’s name on it, and waited for the customer to come back. Her son would be able to place the sheet protectors over the pages of the books and would change the color of text he was reading. I tested the theory, and it worked; now I just had to wait for her to come back.
When she walked into the store she was pleased with my invitations I had made for her, but I had a folder that was waiting for her underneath the order.
The second her eyes met the sheet protectors she looked up at me with tears and hugged me. This moment for me represents not only the importance of customer care, but the essential need to do what is right in life for people. Of all of my stories, I will tell you that you don’t make life-long customers by doing what they ask, even if it’s incredible work. The customers that end up being my advocates are the ones that I go beyond what anyone expects of me- it’s the sprinkle of extra that makes your biggest fan base.
Thinking outside the box is not as difficult as this scenario, many times it’s sending a thank you card, or finding an emotional connection that “how may I help you?” won’t always get you. Dig deep and invest some time when you can with your customers.
I never did find out whether my sheet protectors ended up helping her son, she always remembered to thank me each time she came in and reminded me that she will never take her business anywhere else. This customer ended up referring her entire family and friends into our location and was a very big win for our store.
The next time you deal with a customer or even a friend, go beyond what is asked of you. It’s amazing what magic can spark when you take a second to think about how easy a simple action can change the course of your/their day, week or even life. Get out there and share your story and always remember to develop daily!