As consumers we love to hear stories about great customer service. It is a wonderful reminder that in today’s fast-paced world there are companies and employees who really do care about their customers. Every day each one of us has the opportunity to engage with customers, get to know them and do our best to make their day. The possibilities are endless if you just look for them.
Several years ago I was working at an Apple store on a Friday morning before a long holiday weekend. Shortly after the store opened a dad with his young daughter came into the store. He seemed like he was in a hurry and even a little anxious.
He came to pick up his laptop because we were repairing it. We had to replace the keyboard because his youngest son got a little too excited playing with it one day. I brought out his computer, set it on the counter and turned it on so that he could inspect the work we did. Yep, everything looked ship shape. We were good to go.
We had been exchanging some small talk throughout the interaction. As I powered his computer on I noticed that the wallpaper on his laptop was a picture of two young kids. A girl and a boy. Since he walked into the store with the little girl I asked him if these were his kids.
He smiled and very proudly said yes. Then he pointed to the little boy in the picture. “This little guy is the reason we needed a new keyboard.” Turns out his son is autistic and became overly excited one day playing with the computer.
We talked a little more about his kids. Even their plans for the holiday weekend. They had to change their plans so that they could afford the cost of the repair. “No big deal,” he said, “that’s life and that’s okay.”
In those few moments that we talked I was able to make a personal connection with the customer. By noticing a few details about him I was able to start a conversation. It really is that easy to do. Because I was genuinely interested in what the customer had to say I was able to establish trust and credibility. All by being me, my authentic self. I rang up the dad and handed him his computer. He looked at me with confusion. “Don’t you need my credit card? I need to pay for the repair.”
I told him this one was on us. That the money would be much better spent on his family so that they could enjoy the holiday weekend. He had the biggest grin, thanked me and went on his way. Now, let me point out that it was the actual “act of kindness” that the customer appreciated most. The reality is that giving stuff away for free does not build trust, loyalty or credibility. That’s not what customers really care about. Trust me I have been working with them for over 25 years. Customers want to know that you care about them and their story. You will see what I mean when you read the end of this story.
About thirty minutes later he returned to the store. I was surprised to see him and asked if everything was okay. He said that he just got off the phone with his wife and explained to her what happened earlier at the store. She asked him if he would come back into the store and give me a big hug. They were both so appreciative of the thoughtful gesture. So we hugged. It was awesome. The dad and his family are still loyal customers to this day. How can you show each of your customer’s that you are really interested in them as people? What are ways that you can make their day? Get inspired! The possibilities are endless!