Five weeks ago, I had my annual appointment at the eye doctor. This place also has a rockin’ selection of eyewear, so I also selected a pair of glasses and a long-overdue pair of sport sunglasses from Ray-Ban, carefully chosen by their eyewear professional to best protect my eyes from the sun on long runs. They were due to be ready within 10 business days.
When I hadn’t heard anything at the 15-day mark, I called them. Nope, no sunglasses. “They should be in today’s delivery. We’ll call you.” At the 20-day mark, I called again. Yes, the frames had finally arrived that morning, and would have their lenses by the end of the day. I showed up at lunchtime the following day: the glasses still weren’t ready.
I was, to say the least, irate. Quietly irate, but irate nonetheless.
This morning I showed up to pick up my now-ready sunglasses. I tried them on; they were much too large. She took them to the back to heat and adjust them… and cracked the lens. As we debated what to do about this, it became obvious that the frame material wasn’t going to allow for enough flexibility to actually shape to fit my face without slipping off when I sweat.
This was a problem.
So there I sat, realizing that I was now nearly $200 in the hole for a pair of prescription sunglasses that would not only take an undisclosed length of time to re-order, but that wouldn’t be exactly right after all was said and done. This was bad. This was ranting-on-Yelp bad.
And then she uttered these magical words: “Choose another frame. We’ll refund your money and comp the new frame for your trouble.”
Comp? As in free? Suddenly, my outlook changed. She guided me to the Oakley case and helped me select a sport frame that not only fit me properly, but was lightweight, polarized and guaranteed not to slip off my face mid-run. Yes, I do have to wait two more weeks for Oakley to custom-manufacture my lenses, but under the circumstances, I think it’s worth it.
She went out of her way to make me happy. Comping a $400 pair of sunglasses is well above and beyond the call of duty at most retailers, and helped turn the tide in their favor when they were on the verge of losing a repeat customer.
But good customer service doesn’t have to be a big-ticket win. All you need to do is make the customer feel special and appreciative of your efforts, as I saw a few weeks ago when a Macy’s employee outdid the customer service at Nordstrom.
I was meeting a colleague for lunch, and she suggested Nordstrom Cafe because she was also out of makeup and thought that she could kill two birds with one stone on a busy day. It was during the Nordstrom anniversary sale and the counter was swimming in salespeople, but it still took several minutes before someone acknowledged her and delivered the bad news: they were out of what she needed. So sorry, can I help the next customer? We opted to walk down to Macy’s to see if they had any.
Unlike Nordstrom, Macy’s was a ghost town. It took a few minutes to even find a salesperson, but we found a good one. She searched the cases for the makeup. After checking the computer and realizing that it wasn’t in stock, she did something that we didn’t expect from Macy’s: she gave my colleague a sizable sample of the makeup to hold her over until the next shipment, and took her contact information to notify her when it was back in stock. It was the kind of experience that we would have expected from Nordstrom, but didn’t get.
“Looks like I’m a Macy’s customer now,” she said with surprise.
On both counts, now there are customers out there doing their marketing for them. A personal recommendation from a friend factors more heavily in decision-making than the reviews of strangers. The cost of the glasses may seem like a big number, but it guarantees that I’ll buy my glasses from them again next year. Add in one new customer that might be gained from sharing the story, and it works out to be a very small price to pay for good word-of-mouth marketing.