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Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Volume 19 | # 441
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Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines. » Robert Schuller

Not Very Well Done

My wife likes steaks and burgers cooked very well-done. It does make life easier for me when I barbecue. 

I suppose real chefs consider it a culinary crime to create an edible hockey puck. Not me.

Last Friday, we stopped in for dinner at one of my family’s favorite restaurants, and everyone ordered their usual. The place was packed, and we were served by a new waitress. She smiled freely and was exceptionally friendly.

When the orders arrived about 30 minutes later, my wife discovered that her burger was, at best, cooked medium. We’re talking pretty pink in the middle.

As the place was packed and we had already waited for a long time, she didn’t want to send it back. So, she ended up cutting out the few non-pink parts of the burger to eat.

When our waitress came by later to ask how things were, my wife didn’t want to say anything. But I knew that meant we would likely stop eating there. She wasn’t going to complain…but she wasn’t going to come back either.

So I explained the problem to the waitress, and she apologized like she had cooked the burger herself. She assured us she was clear with the order. We told her that we knew it wasn’t her fault and that the kitchen was probably extremely busy.

But she apologized again and asked if she could get my wife anything else. We declined.

She came back a few minutes later to apologize again.

A little later, one of the co-managers whom we’d never seen before came by and told us he was taking the burger off of our bill. He seemed pretty blasé.

I told him it was okay, and we didn’t ask for a refund. My wife did eat about 1/3 of the burger. He said, “Well, I’m going to take it off, anyway.“

We said thanks, and he walked away saying, “No problem.”

I sat there feeling less grateful to a guy who had just given me back $12 than to the young lady who expressed genuine concern and empathy.

One guy had the authority to refund something but apparently lacked the awareness that not charging us for their mistake isn’t exactly the height of altruism.

My wife then made sure we tipped the waitress especially well because she showed she really cared. Yeah, go figure.

A customer’s happiness with your services is usually driven by more things than simply what those services cost. Will yours sense you care today?

Getting Goodwill Flowing

We recently had to have plumbing work done in our home. Plumbing is something I usually will take a shot at before calling in the professionals.

I won’t play around with electricity, but plumbing usually poses less risk to bodily harm…usually.

In this instance, the project was one I had a feeling I could botch pretty easily. After considering a few options, we called a plumbing company that we remembered positively from previous work.

It didn’t take long for them to discern that the reason for our lingering problem was a shortcut other plumbers had taken during a previous remodel.

When they had to break out welding equipment, I knew the scope of work and accompanying bill would be larger than we originally discussed.

But, hey, we like working indoor plumbing. I guess we’re spoiled that way.

When the bill came, it was bigger but seemed reasonable. And it wasn’t like we had the time to get estimates from other plumbers.

As the young man presented me the bill, he asked if there were any other problems they could help me with. I mentioned that, as a matter of fact, we did have another bathroom needing a repair. But it wasn’t as pressing as the one they had fixed.

Plus, I knew they were now a little late for their next job because of the extra time on ours.

He insisted on seeing the problem, and before I knew it, had sent his assistant to the truck to get a few things. About 10 minutes later, they came out of that small bathroom and asked me to give it a look.

They had fixed the problem in a much nicer fashion that I could have done myself and had even added a cosmetic touch I wouldn’t have expected.

Before I could get out the words, “What do I owe you?” he said, “No charge on that one. We appreciate the opportunity of doing work for you.”

After a very satisfactory several-hundred-dollars project, it was the smaller job they threw in afterward that made the biggest impression. We went from being satisfied customers to loyal ones.

No advertising would have had the kind of impact that their unexpected goodwill gesture did.

The most powerful marketing messages you can send today likely won’t involve traditional forms of advertising at all. Personal goodwill gestures strengthen relationships like few things can.

How many folks will you pleasantly surprise this week?

An intelligent person is never afraid or ashamed to find errors in his understandings of things. » Bryant H. McGill

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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