It’s holiday time. Happy Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and any other holiday you might celebrate this time of year. A few years back I shared a story about an Ace Hardware manager who really went above and beyond for his customer. The story was about a Christmas tree and, during the holiday season, I can’t think of a better story to tell to illustrate an example of amazing customer service.
An elderly lady was visiting the Ace Hardware store in Dunedin, Florida, looking at Christmas trees around holiday time. The trees were lined up in front of the store, and the store manager, Jeffrey Gawel, was helping her choose one. She spotted a tree and said, “Boy, I’d sure love that tree, and I know it would look great in my living room, but it’s just too darned tall for me to decorate at my age. It’s too big to carry into my apartment, and I’m not going to make my way up a ladder to decorate the tree. I’m just too old for that.”
The woman was just vocalizing her thoughts. She wasn’t really asking for his help. So you can imagine her surprise when the manager said, “Oh, that’s no problem at all. I’ll be happy to deliver it to your home, and even help you decorate it.”
Surely he was kidding! But, actually, he wasn’t!
Sure enough, Jeffrey delivered that tree to his customer’s home. The woman had boxes of cherished mementos and ornaments to decorate the tree with. And here is the amazing part of the story. The next year he did it again. It became a tradition. For nine years this woman would come by the store, pick out the tree, and it would be delivered that evening. Nine years!
As they decorated the tree, the woman would tell stories. Jeffrey jokes that he had to listen to same ones over and over each year. She served him a piece of banana bread and a Diet Coke every time. He said it was like spending time with a new grandma.
This tradition finally ended when his friend passed away in her eighties. At the funeral there were only ten people, and he was one of them.
She had told all of her neighbors about Jeffrey and the special time they had together. This manager had become much, much more than a hardware store manager. He became more than just a friend. It was like he was family. All because he was willing to do a little something extra to take care of his customers.
A few thoughts come to mind:
What would it be like if you treated your customer like he or she was your grandparent?
What’s your version of the Christmas tree story?
Don’t wait until Christmas to be amazing. Do it all year long!
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)