It’s the holiday season, and it’s all about the consumer. And as a consumer, I’ve been fortunate (or unfortunate, as it may be) to have had a series of experiences — both incredibly good and horribly wrong — that I believe contain worthwhile lessons on customer service and are therefore worth sharing. So with that as a backdrop, I’m going to focus an entire series of blogs on customer service. Enjoy…
It was Sunday, the day prior to the kickoff of the 2009 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo. It was 4 p.m., and my cell phone was officially pronounced dead. Now, as sad as it may seem, on any normal day, I would have panicked without my cell phone (why can’t we live without these things?). But this was Sunday, the day prior to the largest national marine dealer convention in years, if not ever. And every single speaker who would take the stage over the course of the next three days — not to mention countless dealers, suppliers and fellow staff members — had my cell phone as their main point of contact.
With no rental car, no familiarity with the Orlando area, and an increasingly overwhelming feeling of helplessness, we turned to the one place any right-minded individual would turn — our host for the week, Disney. Now, we’ve all heard the wonderful stories about Disney and how great the company’s customer service is. And now I, in all my troubles, was fortunate to experience it first hand.
Our main contact with Disney for the week, Donna Jarrett, took our phone call as though she was expecting it. She suggested we meet her by the registration counter, and by the time we did, she had already Googled the closest cell phone store. In a matter of moments — remember, not many stores stay open past 5 p.m. on a Sunday — we were in Disney’s “company car” (conveniently waiting for us in the closest parking stall to our meeting spot) and headed for the freeway.
En route to the store, Donna shared with me her career at Disney, most, if not all of which had been spent doing exactly what she was doing at that very moment — taking good care of her Disney customers. And she was a pro. She drove me straight to the store; and when we found that the local AT&T store did a better job of optimizing its Web site for the Google search words “Sprint store,” we took directions and she drove us a few more miles to our desired destination.
The experience at the Sprint store will be the topic of my next blog, but suffice it to say, it was not good. And by 6:15 when we finally left, I was furious. But there was Donna, smiling through it all and deflecting my apologies with the same phrase over and over: “no problem.” Meanwhile, she was pecking away at her Blackberry, surely taking care of her other customers and most likely explaining to her family why she would be home late.
That, my friends, is the ultimate example of customer service. I had a need, and although it surely would have seemed trivial to some, it was an urgent necessity for the success of our event. Donna saw that, and she responded to meet my needs. It would have been much easier to say, “I can call you a taxi.” But like we learned from our Disney keynote speaker the night before, Disney — and those employees like Donna who exemplify its values — approach their customers with the attitude of “it may not be my fault, but it’s my problem.”
We should all learn from Donna and Disney. They were prepared to meet my need before it popped up — they not only had a company car set aside for such issues, but it was also right outside the door for quick access. They gave of their time and their resources when it would have been easier to simply direct us elsewhere. They made our problem their own, and they smiled throughout it all. They didn’t just say “have a magical day,” they made it happen.
Next week: The Sprint Store experience…