Who would’ve guessed it…

The funny thing about customer service is that at some places you expect great customer service.  However, at other places you would absolutely expect that they had never even heard of the concept of customer service.  In fact, they don’t even look at those entering the doors as customers.  Quite possibly, when the door opens they are only reminded of more work.  “When is quitting time?” they say.  They watch the clock no later than an hour into their eight-hour shift.  This is how my next experience begins.

Last fall I went to the local governmental office of motor vehicles to renew my spouses registration on her vehicle.  You guessed it, the line was as long as this year’s new roller coaster at Cedar Point.  I mean crazy long.  IMG00273-20121116-1543The problem was, I didn’t have anyone to talk to, there were no drink stations, and nobody brought a beach ball to toss around.  If you have never went to the DMV, believe me, you will easily wait an hour to get a solution to your problem.  Today was no different for me.

There was however a great story to tell.  The gentleman that was in front of me was at least a little disabled.  He needed the assistance of a cane to walk.  I remember thinking to myself, he shouldn’t have to wait in this long line when he has trouble standing.

Oddly enough, just minutes after I had the thought.  One of the workers came from behind the counter straight over to the gentleman in front of me and took him directly to her window so he wouldn’t have to wait.

I was totally astonished.  I have never seen anything like that in any governmental office.  Usually, they would see a line and instead of working the line down, two or three of the windows close so the employees can go to lunch.  It almost seems like government employees could care less about taking care of customers.  However, in this instance, the employee took the initiative to help this man because he would experience major discomfort by standing in this long line.  She treated him in the manner that reasonable human beings should treat each other.  This was a great example of doing the right thing even though there were a number of people who would’ve been serviced before him in a first come first served model.  If this were my father or grandfather I would hope someone would have the common decency to give him the same service.  The greatest point of the whole experience was that I didn’t hear any of the others around me grumble one bit.  EXCELLENT!!!

Hometown Heroes……. Definitely under appreciated: Three reasons why they deserve appreciation.

I recently had a weekend full of exceptional customer experiences.  The funny thing is, I was going about my mundane daily errands and was exposed to some extremely amazing experiences.

Experience #1

My wife and I had the pleasure of shopping together for the weekends meals.  I know what you’re thinking, the pleasure of shopping for the weekends meals, where’s the pleasure come from; keep in mind that we have five beautiful children and don’t get much opportunity to do anything alone.  Anyway back to my story.  We were both starving because it was after lunch and neither of us had anything to eat since breakfast.  Here is a little note to the reader.  Never, ever, ever go shopping for groceries on an empty stomach.  You will end up buying 10 gallons of cookies and cream ice cream and swear it is a necessity.  So my wife suggested that we go over to the deli first and share a small snack before starting to shop.  When we get over there, there is no one to help us.  Remember, we are both starving and short on patience.  Within a minute I was asking her if we should flag someone down.  We didn’t.  We probably waited another 30 seconds before we were helped.  The young man appeared from the back like a ghost.  Surprise!  The young man at the deli greeted us with a smile.  Some people can be very indecisive when they are hungry.  That’s us.  He offered us a sample of some of the food.  He gave us a piece of food and my wife said thanks we can share.  He then proceeded to say no problem you can both have your own sample.  I laughed and said I’m a grown man not a baby boy.  He agreed and thought if we were sharing I would need a sample.  He also suggested some other items that would compliment our choice.  In the end we were looking for a snack but from his amazing customer service he sold us on a meal and we ended up getting Ice Cream!  I was blown away.  This young man was probably less than 25 and treated us with respect and up-sold us like crazy.  This grocery store is a large regional chain in the mid-west and I have been shopping here for 20+ years.  I have never experienced such great salesmanship in any of the chains stores.  This young man should be commended by his superiors.

Experience dos( spanish for 2 )

I was totally caught off guard by this experience.  After the deli greatness, my wife and I stopped by our local thrift store to drop off some of our gently used items for donation.  We pulled up and I got out of the car to open the trunk and pull out the donations.  One of the employees came out with a smile and said “Hello sir, how are you today?”  I answered fine and proceeded to get the donations out.  By this time another employee came out.  He was also smiling and asked “How are you sir?”  At this point I’m thinking two things: 1. These guys are being very polite. and 2. Do I look old?

Keep in mind, we donate here all the time and I think this is the first time anyone called me sir.  We made some small talk while finishing the transaction.  The second gentleman gave me a receipt and thanked me for his employment.  WOW!  I never thought by donating my unused clothing and furniture that I was helping create employment for someone.  I then thanked him for opening my eyes and that his enthusiasm would be the reason I would only donate with them in the future.

Experience trois( french! I’m trilingual )

20 years ago who would have thought you could make money selling air.

This is the one I will never forget.  I was on my way to meet someone and remembered that my wife said that my tire was low and needed air.  If you don’t already know, there is almost nowhere you can get air for your tire without paying.  So I stop at one of my local filling stations to get some vended air.  Problem:  I don’t have any cash.  These vending machines only take quarters.  So I figured I would buy a bottled water and get some cash back from my debit card.  Problem compounded:  This station doesn’t give cash back.  I was totally ready to leave and go to the ATM or chance it and go home.  The manager on duty Blair Sobeleskey overheard the dilemma and went into her own pocket and gave me four quarters.  Unbelievable!  This woman who only knows me as a regular customer, went to an unbelievable extent to take care of me.  She said she would feel bad if she heard that because of my nearly flat tire I was involved in an accident and got hurt.

Just goes to show.  There are people out there who care about others because it is the right thing to do.  Many thanks to Blair Sobeleskey.  You are appreciated.  If I misspelled your name I apologize.

The Taste of Chicago……….sleep so good.

I love Chicago.  Everything about this metropolis is totally inviting.  Recently I along with some of my closest friends took on Chicago during the famous “Taste”.  There are a few important choices to make if you are vacationing in Chicago.  Choice number 1: Which of the many magnificent hotels you will lodge.  Choice number 2: Of the many amazing restaurants, which few are a must to visit.  Choice number 3: Too many historic locations to visit.

Now the really cool thing about Chicago is that of these three choices, you can almost throw a dart and be guaranteed a great trip.  When planning my trip I did not however throw that dart.  As I have spent countless long weekends in the Windy City, I was a little more deliberate in my selection.  I decided to bed in the west suburban city of Rosemont.  The plan was to take the Blue line from Rosemont into the city daily.  Normally we bed in downtown at one of the four or five-star hotels(I’m not rich just a smart consumer).  Now these hotels have location hands down.  You can access all the major museums, all the pro sports venues, too many restaurants to name, and the nightlife is amazing.  Some of the challenges are parking is sky-high(all big cities follow suite), the wait for any of the eateries is 1 hour or more, and it usually takes forever to check in to your hotel.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE CHICAGO.  I know when I go downtown to eat I’m going to wait for an hour at least before I sit down.  For me, the challenges are part of the adventure.  Knowing this, if you’ve never been to a monster sized city you will be faced with these challenges.

“Buckingham Fountain” in Grant Park downtown Chicago Illinois

Anyway, we bedded in Rosemont.  The hotel/resort we stayed in was a very nice hotel/resort.  We were greeted with a warm formal introduction by the concierge.  He welcomed us to his hotel/resort and asked if we needed help with our luggage.  I proceeded to check in while the rest of the group helped with the luggage.  When I go to check in I was greeted with a smile and was made to feel comfortable.  During the check in process, I was engaged with small talk and was asked what was on our agenda for our weekend.  I mentioned that I was starving and then was offered a paper menu from the restaurant in the lobby and was also given a list of some of the local eateries.  I love local eateries in the Chicago area.  As the check in process was coming to an end I asked for a complimentary upgraded room(be careful what you ask for, you may just get it).  The CSR informed me that the hotel/resort was completely booked for the weekend; however, she could put me in a corner suite with more square footage and a better view.  Of course I accepted and thanked her.

Our suite was very spacious.  It had a sitting area with a love seat, a coffee table, a desk, and a magnificent view.  Also it was at the end of the hall.  Quiet and very secluded.  We stayed for two nights.  For breakfast we had a good amount of choice.  We could have a nice breakfast in bed, we could have a five-star breakfast experience in the restaurant, or we could get bagels and cream cheese in the cafe.  We chose the cafe as we were saving room for the “Taste”.  One of the surprises was that there was a casino in Rosemont in walking distance from our hotel.  And even cooler, there was a free shuttle bus from the train station.  We went to the casino for entertainment but I didn’t win any money.  I never do.  The casino always wins.  Don’t go to casino’s to make money.  Go to casino’s for the entertainment.  Back to my hotel/resort.  As we went to check out the CSR asked how our stay was and I informed her that we had a great time and would definitely bed there again.  We checked out and headed to the van to shove off.  However, we never paid for parking.  So I rolled back to the desk to pay for parking so we could be on our way.  When I arrived at the front desk and told the CSR that we needed to pay for parking she took my ticket validated it and told me it was on the house.  I was blown away.  She basically saved us in excess of $75 for parking. AMAZING!

Overall my stay was great.  I didn’t come across one issue until I arrived home.  The issue didn’t have a thing to do with the hotel/resort.  It was my fault totally.  As I was unpacking, I realized I had left my toiletries in the hotel room.  I was kicking myself, kicking myself, kicking myself.  I left my crazy expensive toothbrush, some of my favorite cologne, and my grooming kit.  I was totally bummed that I forgot my toiletries.  I couldn’t let it go.  I had to get my belongings.  On Tuesday morning I called the hotel and informed them of my belongings being left in the room.  They tracked down my things and told me they would send them to the shipping department.  I would be called to verify my address and shipping preferences.  Now I was feeling good that I would eventually get my things.  However, I never got a call.  Wednesday came and went no call.  I was being very patient because this situation was totally my fault.  On Thursday lo and behold my package arrives.  Unbelievable!  Due to my absent-mindedness I left some belongings in my hotel room, and in less than a week I had them back in my possessions on the hotels dime.  This customer service was far above and extremely beyond normal.  Just to put it into perspective, during one of my many trips to Vegas I was gifted $1000+ worth of gifts from vendors.  These gifts were stolen from my room by the housekeeping staff.  I did get a tour of the back house of one of the more famous casinos; however, I never recovered my gifts.  But my Rosemont hotel/resort made me whole in less than a week.

My hat is off to the folks at the Westin O’hare in Rosemont, Illinois.  You made my stay a very memorable one.  I will definitely be back.

I Need to Recharge, NOW!

Last weekend my wife was in Atlanta visiting with her brother and stepmother.  That means I was left at home to take care of my 5 children.  Now don’t get me wrong I love my children but this helps set the scene.  It is Friday afternoon and I am picking the last three up from school in my wife’s van.  We pull up and park the van and shut off the engine.  I am sitting with my youngest and oldest in the car.  The baby is sleeping.  I am attempting to extract the events of my oldest daughters day at school.  Keep in mind she is 15 and completing her first year in high school.  So some of you probably know, she didn’t learn anything and can’t remember what she did in school today.  Typical.  So a few minutes pass and the rest of my children make it to the van and we are ready to go.

As the kids are all buckling up, I turn the key to start the car.  Nothing!  I try again, Nothing!  So I sit there for a moment and think.  After, a minute or two pass the children are now wondering why we are not moving yet.  So I tell them the battery is dead.  My children are so dramatic.  They start going crazy saying things like “We are never gonna get home!”, “Mommy is not here to come and get us.”  Really this hurt my feelings a little.  Don’t they know, I am the one who put 24/7 roadside service on our insurance plan.  Kids are unbelievable.  So I calmly called my insurance provider to get the roadside service on the way.  They inform me that I could wait up to an hour for the service to arrive. GREAT!

Now I remember, the last time I took my wife’s van in for some work they told me I would have to replace the battery soon.  I should have listened.  Anyway, during my time waiting I called around to about four places to see how much a battery would be.  One of the places I called is the regular place I go to get all my replacement parts.  Battery in stock $99.99.  That sounds about right but I called three other stores to see if I could find it cheaper.  I ended up finding it cheaper by $5 at another store.  I thought to myself, why go to a competitor of my regular store for a $5 discount.  Now I’m sure you know people who would jump ship and go to the competitor for a $5 discount.  I do too; however, I don’t understand that.  If I have a relationship with someone and they treat me well 90% of the time, I am not going to jump ship for a 5% discount.

I made up my mind and went to my regular store.  It was on my way home anyway.  The roadside service came in 15 minutes I was impressed.  The guy that gave me a jump was very pleasant.  He got my battery charged up and we were on our way.  I pull into the parking lot of my auto parts store.  I walk in the door and am greeted with a smile.  How are you doing today?  How can I help you?  I tell him what I need, he looks it up and he is off to get it.  We go over to the register and he is ringing me up.  He asks for my member card and of course, I don’t have it.  He proceeds to find me in the system.  As he is looking me up, I mention that one of his competitors had the same battery for five bucks cheaper.  He then said I will give you that $5 dollars off today.  GREAT!  Now that he has found my card he finds that I have $20 in credit on my account.  However, without a card I cannot use the credit.  He then explains that if I get a new card I can transfer the old credit to a new card if I tell customer service I lost my card.  GREAT!

So I call customer service and get my old account transferred to a new card and was able to use the $20 credit.  How awesome is that.  The Sales Associate gave me the price match without any proof, helped me save $20 by transferring my account to a new card, and installed the battery.  This is a great example of the Sales Associate going the extra mile for a customer because he was empowered by someone in his organization to take care of the customers and do the right thing.  I will never question where I should go for my auto parts needs.

Welcome to the 21st Century……

My wife and I recently moved our technology into the 21st century.  For the past year our cell phones have been far less than average in regards to technology and function options.  Sometimes my phone would power down every time I placed it on a surface.  Even if I gently placed it down, it would power off immediately.  My wife’s phones keypad wouldn’t work at all.  She would have to flip the phone open and use the qwerty keypad to utilize any functionality on her phone.

So we hemmed and hawed for almost an entire year(typical) with no contract because we didn’t want to get the infamous “Data Package”.  We try do cut costs whenever possible.  We don’t even have cable for crying out loud.  Maybe I’m also cheap.  I don’t know.  Anyhow, my wife found a phone that would fit both of our needs; however, it would have the “Data Package”.  Oh well.  At this point there was no getting away from it.  This phone had an awesome price, FREE with a two year contract extension.  She ordered the phones and they are coming in two days.  We didn’t even have to pay for shipping.

I have the pleasure of being at home when the delivery gets there.  The doorbell rings, and I answer the door.  “Good afternoon sir, I have a delivery for you.”  He only had one box.  It looked large enough for two cell phones.  So I said, “Only the one box?”  He replied “Just the one today.”  “We ordered two cell phones and this box looks big enough to hold two.”  He said he would  check in his truck to see if there was another.  If there was another we would see him again.  We parted ways and that would be the only time I saw him that day.

The next day came, about midday and I heard a ring at the door.  It was the same deliveryman as the day before.  He not only remembered our conversation from the day before but he also explained to me how sometimes these shipments come out of different warehouses and show up on different days because of location of the warehouses.  Today, I came to the door my 7month old son.  The deliveryman took this opportunity to spark a conversation about my son, as he has a son at home that is less than a year old.  He made what could have been a routine delivery an exceptional customer experience for me.

I know how the global logistics works.  The deliveryman/woman have hundreds of deliveries daily.  They work 10 to 12 hours everyday.  For him to remember this one stop and what he delivered yesterday is amazing.  In addition, for him to go out of his way and have a non-related conversation with me when he probably has 6-8 more hours of work shows that he cares about his customer.