On a regular basis, my wife and I discuss customer service. The sad thing is, the majority of the time, we are discussing a lack of customer service. At a time when technology has taken over most of our lives, I dare say the majority of us would still rather speak to a human than a computer when we need help. Technology is great, but people still have an edge when it comes to dealing with an angry or distressed customer.Writing about this topic came to mind last week when I traveled to Washington D.C. for my cousin's wedding. Before you think I'm about to complain, I want to let you know that I had one of the best customer service experiences I can remember.
Because I'm a glutton for punishment, my wife and I booked a red eye from San Francisco to D.C. with two stops. If that wasn't bad enough, I realized as we landed in D.C. that I left two pairs of shoes somewhere between San Francisco and Cincinnati (my second of two stops). Why did I do that? I could give a number of excuses, but the fact is that I had to carry them on because we over packed, and I just sat them down and forgot them somewhere. Since I had both a pair of dress shoes (which I needed for the wedding) and a pair ofsandals, I was able to put them both in the same shoebox. The problem was that the box wasn't marked in any way and I wasn't even sure if I had the box when I left Detroit (my first of two stops). It was a little hard to get my mind clicking since I hadn't slept at all that night.
Thoroughly ready to freak out, I met Antonio Bruce at the Delta customer service office in Washington Dulles Airport. As an aside, this happened before the Delta military debacle took place. That situation is disgusting, but it's completely separate from how Antonio worked with me and I don't want to get into a political topic. Now lets get back to Antonio and his excellent customer service. After explaining the situation to Antonio, he jumped directly on the phone and began calling anyone and everyone he thought could help. He quickly narrowed down where the plane I had been on was and, after about 15 phone calls, miraculously found my shoes in Atlanta, GA. The service didn't end there. He worked with a gentleman named Meghan Shah in Atlanta to get my shoes sent back to Washington D.C. later that same day. Not only did they get the shoes back to D.C., but they also had them sent to Reagan Airport instead of Dulles so I didn't have to go out of my way to pick them up. After we got the shoe situation cleared up, Antonio walked my wife and me out past the information desk, got us a map, and helped show us where the bus would pick us up to take us to the city. Maybe he felt I was incompetent since I forgot my shoes on a plane, but at the time, it was welcomed service. On top of all that, Antonio wouldn't even take a tip. He said it was his pleasure. That is what I call exceeding expectations! Thank you Antonio on a job well done.
Susan Ward put together the 8 Rules for Good Customer Service and wetend to agree with her. Also, I learned a long time ago from Jim Eckert, Ph.D. (my sales professor at Western Michigan University) about the Golden Rule of Sales. The rule is to treat customers how "they" wish to be treated. It seems simple, but it's more the exception than the rule these days.
As I think back to all the problems I've had dealing with phone companies, cable companies, and shipping companies, my experience in D.C.reiterates the need for excellent customer service. During a time where competition and price pressure has commoditized many goods and services, customer service can be the great differentiator. It didn't cost Antonio any more to help me the way he did. He just saw a customer that needed to be helped and he did everything he could to help. The key word is help. That is the kind of service we're striving to achieve at Stitch Labs. We recently received some great recognition from one of our customers on their blog, and while our application has only been live for a short time, our goal is to continue to satisfy our customers in a way that exceeds their expectations.