(Time to read this Blog article is about 45 seconds)

Many companies measure their service excellence by how well and how quickly they respond to their customers.  How we respond matters.  But the real customer service magic comes when we anticipate our customers’ needs and proactively do what needs to be done.

One day, early on in the life of our (eventually) award-winning Alive & Well fashion store, I was the only employee and there was only one customer in the store.  She was in a change room and her two year old son was running around like a madman.  Suddenly, I smelled a full diaper …and so did his mother.  She came running out of the change room, looked at the poop running down her son’s leg, threw up her hands and  said, “I don’t have any diapers with me; I’ll have to take him home.”  

  “Take him home.”  I said, “You can’t even pick him up.” 

  “But what will I do?” she asked.

–  “Have you ever worked in a retail store?”  I enquired?

  “Yes, years ago.”

–  “Well, you’re working in one again.”  I informed her.  “You’re in charge…I’ll be right back with diapers.”

I jumped in my car, drove down to the corner drug store, bought three sizes of diapers, wipes and cream and was back in the store in 8 minutes.  While I was gone three customers came in and my new stand-in sales lady was doing just fine.  She changed her son’s diaper, continued shopping and, over the next few weeks must have told 100 women about the crazy store owner who left her in charge and ran out to buy diapers.  

We were immediately mobbed by young mothers who came in to shop and to ask if we really had free diapers.  From that day on we had change tables, diapers, wipes and cream in our customer washroom.  Why?  Because, if it happened once, it will happen again; and we were ready.  Good businesses respond…great businesses anticipate.  We sold clothing, but we became ‘famous’ for diapers. 

The ‘small stuff’ does make all the difference.  Have you mastered the art of doing a lot of simple things really really well? How can you take small, everyday tasks like answering the phone, serving customers, quoting on jobs, order entry, shipping, customer follow-up, or helping customers read your menu, and turn those tasks into extraordinary acts that delight customers and frustrate your competitors? 

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