Mother’s Day weekend was a tale of two customer service experiences.
This year, I was excited to give my mom a beach bag that had her name engraved on the front. I ordered it from a lovely store on Etsy, but I was concerned that the shipping dates put me at risk for not receiving the item on time. I sent the seller a message, asking if there was any way they could ensure that my package would make it on time. I further explained that this has been a particularly difficult year for my mom, and I wanted to make this gift special. I received a kind reply back, letting know that they would do everything they could to ensure that the item came on time.
And it did! I was immensely grateful.
In the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I worked on securing a reservation for brunch. I had a special spot in mind with a lovely view of the city. When I called, someone kindly explained that they were NOT accepting reservations for Mother’s Day, but we could walk-in and request a table. I was a bit nervous about this, so I scheduled a back-up reservation at a restaurant close by just to be sure.
Mother’s Day came yesterday, and it was a gorgeous day. We were so excited to enjoy brunch at that special spot with the walk-in’s only approach to Mother’s Day dining. When we arrived, we were told that they were not accepting walk-ins, they were only excepting reservations. I politely explained that this was the opposite of what I was told on the phone and while doing so, I looked around, and noticed that there were many, many open tables. Hmmmm, I thought.
So, we sat at the bar and enjoyed our brunch. We didn’t want this to ruin our day and didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel good to be told one thing and then to show up and be told another. It also didn’t feel great to have them make no exception for us when it looked like there were many tables available.
I’m reminded of Dan and Chip Heath’s book, The Power of Moments. The Heaths explain that we often only remember the really good and really bad customer service moments. The rest of the time – things are pretty unremarkable. In other words, we are often pretty whelmed – not underwhelmed or overwhelmed – whelmed. But when things are extraordinary in a good or bad way, we remember.
When I look back at my experiences in school, it’s much the same. There is so much I don’t remember. Days and even years run together. But those really amazing things that my teachers and school did to make me feel special – I will always remember. That really horrible thing that someone did that made me feel small? That I will always remember too.
Sometimes, rules don’t quite work or make sense. Sometimes, there are plenty of open tables.
Sometimes, there are small ways we can come through for people that will make a big difference. Sometimes, we can spend a little more on shipping to make sure the day is special.
And all the time, it’s about the people. It’s not about the rules. It’s not about winning or being right. It’s about removing small barriers to give people greater access to a positive experience and a positive learning experience.
There are rules in place for a reason. I get it. However, I’m inviting all of us to ensure that we aren’t hiding behind rules and processes.
People before process. If our processes feel more important than the people we serve, we have lost our way.