It happened again. Not once, not twice… but three times in one week. No, I didn’t get more speeding tickets. I had three outstanding customer service experiences.
So I’m on my way to a client engagement one morning. Of course, the hotel (which was fantastic – a newly renovated Hilton in Pittsburgh. I highly recommend it) did not account for my coffee drinking preferences. There were only two of the little LaVazza coffee packets (I need about six to get going – it’s a nasty habit). I downed them but it still wasn’t enough.
I strolled over to the client site and stopped by the nondescript little coffee shop in the lobby. No, believe it or not it wasn’t a Starbucks despite their ubiquity. This place is called Buon Giorno and it’s located in the lobby of the ABSC building in downtown Pittsburgh (near North Shore Center by PNC Park).
I looked over the fresh pastries and bagels but I was on a mission – coffee. The young lady behind the counter greeted me with a warm hello in between a lively discussion in a foreign Eastern European language I didn’t understand. She was arguing with someone unseen behind the back counter. I opened my wallet to do a cash check and saw nothing but blackness and old receipts. My eldest daughter had hit the BOD without me knowing it (Bank Of Dad). No cash whatsoever but I’m sure she enjoyed her trip to the mall. I asked the lady “do you take plastic?” You know what the answer was. My quest for caffeine screeched to a thundering halt.
At that point, the source of the disembodied voice emerged from the back room. He was about 70ish. He saw me putting away my plastic and getting ready to skulk off in search of java. He inquired in thickly-accented English “So whatta you need this mornink sir?”
“I was going to get a cup of coffee but my daughter cleaned all the cash out of my wallet.”
“You go get the coffee. It’s on me. Get whatever you like. I buy you coffee today.” Free coffee? That’s rarer than a moment of humility for Barry Bonds. Here’s a small business owner who’s scratching out his living selling java to the masses giving away what we all know to be a very high margin item. It was brilliant. I instantly fell in love with the stubby gray haired guy with tufts of hair exploding from his ears.
“Notta problem. Nexta time you here you come back to get your coffee.” Absolutely. He now had a loyal customer who would buy coffee in his shop and tell others about the great experience. It was a simple gesture but one that is so non-obvious to so many in the “customer service” industry. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, I encourage you to stop by there and get yourself a bite to eat and a cup o’ Joe.
It seems there’s something in the air this week (pun intended). A couple of days later, my air conditioner at home started blowing nothing but hot air. What with global warming and all, the house became insufferably toasty. I searched the web for HVAC repair contractors in my area and called the guy who had 12 positive reviews. He immediately answered the phone (it was his cell). I explained my issue and he said “well, I’m finishing a job right now and have another one at 1PM but I will squeeze you in between those two.” It was Saturday by the way…
Bob showed up (and FYI – it’s Dublin Heating & Cooling if you need a GREAT HVAC guy) and assessed the situation. He walked the whole house with me, pointed out issues with my ducts, gave me advice on my filters, suggested changes to my “ventilation strategy” and chatted about the weather. Oh yeah… THEN he got to work fixing my AC unit outside. It wasn’t an easy fix – first we had to bust open my fence (it was stuck) to get at the units. He and I both banged up our knuckles pretty good doing so. While I swore like a longshoreman as my hands scraped the stucco, Bob smiled and said “Gee! This gate sure is stuck!”
When all was said and done, he told me he took the liberty of replacing a few missing screws, added a valve, and put in some additional Freon in my second unit (it was a bit low) “on the house.” On top of that, we got to chatting about thoughtLEADERS and he asked for a card so he could pass my name along to one of his customers. He said he thought the guy would be interested in our training services. Yeahhh… I think Bob will be the first number I call when I need another HVAC repair (and by the way, so should you). Here’s a guy that not only went above and beyond to fix the problem at hand, but he looked for ways to help his customer in any way possible (including general business networking). And yes, my house is cooler. So much cooler that I feel like Luke Skywalker on Hoth.
Last but not least (and I know you’re sick of hearing about these guys), I went to Discount Tire. My right front was making a thrumming noise that I didn’t like. I explained this to the guy and he took a look at the tire. “Yeah, you have some cupping going on.”
“Is that bad? It sounds bad.”
“Nah. It’s more of an annoyance than anything else. It’s definitely not a safety issue so don’t be concerned.”
“Should I get new tires?”
“No way. You have plenty of tread left on these. If you can deal with the noise, wait to replace them. The thrumming will get worse over time and even become a vibration but don’t worry – it’s still not a safety issue. I know you listen to Metallica (yes, he knows me that well) so just turn it up! Have a great day!”
So here was an opportunity for the guy to sell me a new set of tires and he could have easily done so by citing it as a safety issue. He didn’t. He took a few minutes of his time (at no charge) to alleviate my concerns and diagnose the problem. He even recommended a solution he knew I’d love (and the louder you play Master of Puppets, the better it sounds). Once again, this is why I love these guys – they care about me as a customer and always put my interests ahead of their own short-term interests. They understand a solid, honest and trusting relationship keeps me coming back and leads me to continuously recommend them.
Are your people doing the little things? Because guess what – they’re not so little…
– Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC