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My friend, Michael DeVito, had a problem. For months, he and some friends had been planning a weekend hiking trip to the Adirondacks. The Wednesday evening before they were to go, Michael was in Chicago on business when he suddenly realized he had forgotten one very important detail: boots. The Adirondacks in March promised to be cold and wet. Michael had meant to order some new hiking boots but hadn’t gotten to it, so here he was, two days before the trip, with no boots. And he was out of town.
So from his hotel room he called L. L. Bean’s 800 number. “I don’t have a catalog with me,” he told the customer service representative who answered, “but I need a pair of boots I meant to order awhile ago. I saw them in the catalog, so I know you have them.”
The woman laughed and said, “We have more boots than I can count, sir. Let’s see if we can narrow it down a bit!” Her name was Kristi, and Michael sensed he was in good hands.
The call turned into a friendly conversation as Michael told Kristi about the trip. Together they concluded he probably wanted “cold weather” boots, which whittled the options down to a more manageable dozen or so. Michael then described every detail he could remember from the catalog, and between the two of them they pinpointed three possibilities. They were almost there. Then Kristi asked, “When did you want them?”
“To be honest with you,” Michael said, somewhat embarrassed, “I need them by Friday. The trip is this weekend.”
“Hmm,” she said. “I can’t get these out till tomorrow. So our normal two-day shipping won’t work. And we still don’t know for sure which boots you need.”
Michael was starting to lose hope.
Then Kristi saved the day. “Here’s what I’ll do,
Michael,” she said. “Tomorrow I’ll overnight you a pair of each of the three likely candidates in your size. You’ll get them Friday. Try them all on, pick out the pair you want, and then ship the others back. I’ll include a return shipment ticket, all filled out so you can just call the number to request a pickup. Meanwhile, give me your credit card number. I won’t charge anything to it until you call me Monday to tell me which ones you took on your trip. How does that sound?”
“Michael, are you there? Would that be all right with you?”
After a few moments of stunned silence, Michael finally responded with, “Wow!”
As Michael told me this story, I could see in his eyes that he had experienced something more than just a company that had met his needs or a person who had gone beyond all expectations. He was sharing something he could still feel—and would never forget. When I finally asked him how the camping trip went, he laughed and said, “I don’t remember. I spent the whole weekend raving to twelve guys about L. L. Bean!”
A company can’t buy that kind of advertising! And it all came from one person choosing to go beyond what was expected by doing something she did not have to do. That’s outstanding service, and it makes all the difference.
What is the #1 lesson you take from our L.L. Bean story? Do you have a story like this to share? Comment below!
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