Leadership / Management

Customer service champs? If the shoe fits …

Shoes Maybe good customer service isn't an endangered species after all.

Sure, there are plenty of horror stories out there, but there are some pretty good ones, too. Here's one. Here's another.

And because I'm a sucker for this touchy-feely stuff, I've got yet another one for you.

We buy all of our daughter's shoes at a place called Laurie's. It's kind of a St. Louis institution. My wife has been wearing Laurie's shoes since she first started walking, so of course that's where we buy our daughter's footwear. And they've got the kid stuff down pat, too -- helium-filled balloons, cookies, TV, a slide, for Pete's sake.

It's as close to paradise as a kids' shoe-shopping trip can get.

But they also sell shoes for adults, and my wife found herself there recently in a search for a nice pair of walking shoes. "They're for our trip to Orlando," she told Kristi, the salesperson. "We're taking our daughter to Disney World for spring break."

A couple of days later, our daughter receives a hand-written note from Kristi in the mail. It reads simply, "Have a fabulous trip! We'll look forward to seeing you when you get back!"

Sappy? Sure. Corny? You bet. Ulterior motives? Lots of 'em.

Effective? Like you wouldn't believe.

We were sold on Laurie's before. But now? They've got us spreading the word. And why? Because Kristi listened. For a couple of moments, my wife's story was the most important thing on Kristi's mind. As a result, when it comes to shoes, Laurie's is the most important thing on our mind.

That's good customer service in a nutshell. Your customer is happy, and you benefit as a result. It's not rocket science.

It kind of reminds me of a conference I attended a couple of years ago. The event was held at a Ritz-Carlton, and a colleague told the following story:

Months before the conference, said colleague called the Ritz to reserve her room. After the transaction was complete, the "lady" or "gentleman" who took the reservation (that's what the Ritz calls its employees -- "ladies" and "gentlemen") asked my colleague, "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"Well, you could have Brad Pitt waiting for me in my room when I arrive," she joked, and everyone had a good laugh.

Fast-forward to the conference check-in. When my colleague entered her room at the Ritz, there on her bed was ... a framed photo of Brad Pitt.

It's not so much the gesture. It's the fact that they bothered to listen. And it works.

Are you listening? Give it some thought, then tell us: What's your favorite customer service story?


Bill Sheridan