July 14, 2010

My Kingdom for a Piece of Cheese

Note: This post had nothing to do with the title of the post. I have just always wanted to use the phrase

I have been musing lately that (as a vast generalization) we are very quick to complain about poor customer service and let everyone within earshot know not to go there - and rightly so. But there is generally not much said about good customer service. Sure we thank them as we leave but that's usually where it ends.

I wish to change that. I wish to shout it from the rooftops when I get great customer service. I'm talking above and beyond the call of duty. I intend to tell all my friends, make glowing recommendations, write awesome reviews and make sure they know that the service was fantastic and that I appreciated their work.

One prime example of fantastic and simply sublime customer service that I have recently experienced was when I was fitted for contact lenses.

I have been wearing glasses for about 10 years and I've always wanted to give contact lenses a try. I especially wanted to see if I could use contacts for when I'm using my DSLR (tying to look through your glasses and the viewfinder can lead to interesting results read: blurry). But I was hesitant. I didn't know if I could put contact lenses in or not (my fine motor skills aren't the best because of my disability). The whole concept had a big question mark over it but I wanted to at least give it a go.

I fronted up to the local Specsavers store (yes I did just name names. Yes I am giving them free advertising. Yes I was that impressed). Right off the bat I was greeted by a couple of super-friendly workers who made a distinct effort to pronounce my name correctly. BIG points right there. Do you know how many people pronounce my name incorrectly even after being corrected?

They took my vital details down and called my previous optometrist to obtain my prescription. I was ushered in to the optometrist (read: one of the nicest people in the world). The optometrist immediately put me at ease chatting happily on a myriad of subjects and making a sincere effort to get to know me. After checking that I could actually wear contacts and confirming my prescription he put a pair in for me to wear around for a while and see if I liked them.

Wandering around the shops a bit I found I liked them. I like them a LOT! Back to the optometrist for the moment of truth. The moment that I had been dreading. I had to see if I could put contacts in myself. Now I was even more scared because now that I knew how fantastic contacts could be I wanted them BADLY!

I sat there for ages trying to put them in getting more frustrated, my fingers locking up, gathering a slight coating of sweat and tears leaking from my eyes. The whole time my optometrist encouraged me, giving me tips and space when required. He told me I would find my own way and he was positive I could get them in. He cared enough to want to understand my disability and my limitations. He cared enough to let me give it a go and not call time on the whole idea. He understood I needed to do things my own way and at my own pace. Goodness knows he probably had other things he wanted to do with his day but I was never rushed. I was only given support, patience and encouragement from my optometrist and the customer service team.

To cut a long story short I am now able to put a pair of contracts in within 5 min. They rejoiced in my triumph and celebrated with me. They praised me for persevering. I have to say that if it wasn't for that optometrist and the supportive customer service team I probably would have given up within the first few tries and never considered the idea of contacts again.

I don't think I realised how much contacts meant to me. Even now it's hard to put into words. I was given freedom and something which I never thought I'd get. I think at the back of my mind I always thought I would never be able to put them in successfully. To be given something you've always wanted but never really thought possible is a major high point. I wanted the team to know what they'd given me and the gratitude I had for the support, encouragement and patience I had been afforded.

I wrote them a card. I gave them chocolates. A small measure to express my gratitude. Sure, as I dropped off my gift I felt a little silly. I had bouts of nerves - stressing about breaking social conventions and that I was laying myself open to reticule. I worried, I tossed and turned but in the end I knew I had done the right thing. Because stellar work should be rewarded.

You know what? They liked it! Every single team member that I spoke to sincerely thanked me for my card. They appreciated the feedback and it made them feel good. They appreciated being told.

My point is that I intend to be slower to complain and quicker to praise (where warranted). I think there should be more of a focus on the good rather than the bad.

Just two questions remain: Have you even received great customer service? How did you thank them?

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