Angela Hits it Home

by Trudy on March 23, 2012

I realize that I see the world through a hypercritical lens of organization to customer relationship. It is how I am built. I had more than a few instances this past week that stood out for me that underscore how every single action counts.

It started on a return trip from Central America, that included a stop over in a major US city.  I will not bore you with the whole story, but essentially the flight we were connecting to on the same airline left early, leaving TWENTY FOUR passengers staring out at the plane still attached to the gate, wondering how we would get home. An even more horrific encounter with their “customer service” to rebook us, and we were home a full 24 hours later than we should have been. What was shocking was not the missing of the flight or the getting home 24 hours later, but the appalling lack of concern or desire to fix anything from the airline at every single contact point (e.g., flight attendants, food service, gate personnel, airline personnel through the airport, customer service, etc).

My net impression on the organization’s approach to the customer relationship: We just do not care.

Then, I went on the annual family pilgrimage to the car show this past weekend. We are in the market for a new family vehicle so we were checking out options. One car line had several vehicles onsite, and 4 representatives present. The representatives were clustered together chatting. The vehicles were locked. I asked a representative how we would see the vehicle assuming they would open it up and manhandle us through an orchestrated sales spiel. But no. The response was, “You need to go to the dealership.” Huh? Are you kidding me? Nope, they were not.

My net impression: We think we are so good, you will be willing to jump through the barriers we purposefully put up to interact with our product. (No, I emphatically won’t).

I found an awesome spice shop and was anxious to share it with friends. We arrived at the store, shortly before closing (they oddly closed at 5 when all other stores on the street closed at 6). A person stood at the door as we entered (I know it was not the owner) and said, “We close is 6 minutes, I hope you know what you want.” I have met the owners of this shop, young people, who I know would choke on their tongues with this type of greeting. I know the owners are passionate about their product, their business, their customers and their sales. This person at their front end was not.

My friend’s net impression: It would have been her last if I had not been there to correct the situation.

I then had a need to have something engraved and to get it shipped out quickly. I arrived at the store knowing exactly what I needed and asked to make the purchase. It was 10 minutes to closing, and the person said she could sell them to me, but I would have to come back tomorrow to pick them up as the engraving would take 10-15 minutes and she had packed up her engraving machine already (before end of day I might remind you). I was silent, and the look on my face must have been enough for the person to relent and do the engraving. You see, the engraving was meant as a talisman for a sick friend, and I felt great urgency in getting it to her. Once the engraving had begun, I shared a bit of the story of my friend with her, the tears welled up in her eyes and she shared her own story of a friend in a similar situation. She apologized for being difficult to start, and truthfully she could not have done more to have helped me have something special to get into the courier that night. Angela pulled through for me, and was only a couple minutes late in leaving that evening, but that was primarily due to our shared tears.

My net impression: I will make it personal and special. Awesome.

I live for the Angela moments, when a person makes a decision to make a difference in the life of a customer. I hope we all step up to make positive and memorable relationship experiences, every chance we get.  We each get to choose whether we squander or celebrate the opportunities.

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