There’s quite the selection of things to be upset about currently!
Football is still a few weeks away.
Nuclear war could be just a tweet away.
Nazis Gone Wild in Virginia.
I would like to offer a small counterpoint: Possibly the best “make it right” customer service example I’ve been privy to.
The Short Story, Since People Tend to Not Read These Things: An off-the-clock employee (who was in no way responsible for why I was upset) overheard me whining about her employer, stopped to talk with me, and took 15 minutes of her own time to fix my situation.
The Needlessly Long Version:
In seven years of a day job covering the world of customer engagement and loyalty, I’ve become attuned to these things. In a positive way. I notice the little extra things that businesses do that make customers feel good.
That has a negative affect on the other hand, where a terrible experience feels even more painful and personal than it used to.
This past Saturday we’re walking out of the Utah Natural History Museum. I’m using all the fake curse words I could conjure.
- Sons of Biscuits
We had just been denied entrance to the museum, AND on the way out the door a woman rammed her stroller into my ankles. Multiple times. Like, crashing, hitting reverse, then gunning it back into my legs over and over.
All four of us Carters had earned free passes to the museum for completing the Salt Lake County Library summer reading program. We all read a lot, and we all love dinosaurs. It’s a great program.
Except our library had given us four kids passes. The museum said the kids could enter, but the adults couldn’t use the other two kids passes.
This was after 10 minutes of discussion. A management huddle, a lot of dirty looks from the huge crowd behind us, and that was the result. We were asked to pay $30 to enter, or leave.
So we left.
In the world of customer experience, this is where smart companies write off the $30 and let us in. We’ve got two young kids who are into learning and reptiles – target audience!
It was super busy, however, with hundreds of people using the summer reading passes. I get it, but it still hurt and was quite embarrassing.
So we walk out, kids crying, ankles being rammed by one of Minivanistan’s finest, and I’m trying really hard not to say actual cusswords in front of the kids.
I curse the musem. I curse the manager. I curse the achilles killer. And I curse the library.
Here’s Where the Story Gets Better
As we’re nearing our car, a random woman stops and asks us if we were having an issue.
I thought it was just some odd passerby possibly looking to share some grief, but she said she works for the county library system. She’s not on the clock though – she’s in casual clothes, probably coming to check out the museum or volunteering for the summer reading event.
We explain our predicament, and she’s needlessly apologetic. She had nothing to do with this and didn’t even work our specific library.
She offers to take us back and see if she can get us in, but we decline, citing exhaustion and a bit of embarrassment. But just the fact she stopped and asked was enough to calm me down and tamper my hissy fit.
But she doesn’t stop there. When we explained that our library gave us the wrong passes, she pulled out her phone to call them and get us replacements.
But there’s no cell service in this spot.
This also does not stop her. No, she walks with us a couple hundred yards until she finds coverage, then calls. She got the manager of our library on the line, explained the situation, and after a couple minutes, said there would be replacement passes ready for us that day.
15 minutes of her own, off-the-clock time to help people cursing her employer.
Thanks, Marinda from the Hunter Library.
We went to the museum yesterday. The kids had a great time. Our passes from the Whitmore Library included a handwritten apology from the manager.
It was all more than expected. And it was just because one employee who gives a damn about her employer took her personal time to defend it and right a wrong.
I feel like an ass for being such a whiner.
Don’t get me wrong, I have perspective. It wasn’t like an airline had left us stranded in Syria. We were fine. We had other options for entertainment on a Saturday evening.
But catch someone in the heat of the moment when they feel like they’ve been wronged, especially in front of their kids and a crowd of strangers, and you have a chance to win a customer for a long time.
This is how businesses turn haters into loyalists. I write about this all the time on my customer loyalty blog.
It’s the simplest route, but one most companies write off because they don’t invest in their employees enough for anyone to give a shit. They’re too busy worrying about an extra $30 of profit.
Good employees create dedicated customers. It really isn’t that complicated.
That’s the difference between an employee who stands by because they’re off the clock, and one who sees themselves as a living representative of what the company stands for.
It was awesome, and Marinda saved the day.
One Final Thought
If you work for a company that you wouldn’t defend publicly to strangers, get out of there. There are a lot of companies coming around to the idea of employee engagement as a priority.
Don’t do it so you can play hero to angry people, do it because it’s the surest sign you’re happy and invested in what you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in sales or bussing tables. Life’s too short to work for shitty companies. You deserve better. We all do.