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Little Things Matter
by Rick Sidorowicz


Stories are the way we learn and create a culture of high performance. It's all about values and a framework for individual decision making on the front line. Here is one of my favourite stories of obsessed customer service.

The scene is: mid market menswear retail; commission based; relatively small town Canada in the late 90s; turnaround of a $150 million enterprise through customer obsession as the differentiating factor.

Andrew was a fine part timer by all accounts. Young and eager, he quickly internalized our principles of merchandise driven, customer obsessed and empowered for great performance - and made it real. He was young and impressionable and simply took our words for granted and ran with them.

We are in one of our regular team meetings on a Sunday morning before opening. After sharing our store performance and re-committing to our targets for the next few weeks we always share our "hero" stories - what worked and how did we WOW our customers last week.

Andrew, very shyly tells his story.

Andrew served a customer who needed a new suit, and of course the interaction went very well and the customer purchased one of the latest styles with an assortment of shirts and ties to match. Wardrobing is an art and Andrew has learned very quickly. The customer now has a suit with at least four ways to dress up with shirts and ties or dress down with knits, and with a belt, socks and underwear the sale is at least a dozen UPTs (and that is a very good thing.) The customer is very pleased.

During the conversation the customer comments on the music in our store. He likes it, a lot. We have a service that provides tapes, and it seems the current tape strikes a chord of fond memories.

The customer asks what tape is playing. Andrew provides as much information as he can and advises that the tape is supplied by our service - a compilation of favourites, and one of many we rotate through during the week. Andrew provides the names of the selections that were playing during the interaction. Customer is very appreciative.

The transaction goes well and all is completed. The suit as usual will need to picked up later in the week due to a few alterations. The customer has had a very positive and memorable experience. Andrew feels great in being "of service" and "making his day." That's his mission afterall - and the mission was accomplished.

Fast forward later in the week. The customer returns to pick his suit. All goes well. Customer notices something in the breast pocket of the suit - it's a tape. It is the tape that was playing the day of his purchase. WOW!

Andrew was a little reluctant to tell his team (and the invited VP) of what he did. He was a little afraid that taking company property home might get him into trouble. He explained that after the customer's remarks of how he loved the music that was playing that day he just had to make him a tape. He "borrowed" the cassette and took it home and copied it so the customer could have it when he picked up his suit.

He told the story and said that even if "borrowing" the tape got him into trouble it was worth it. He said he saw an opportunity to wow a customer and went for it. He also said that the customer's sincere appreciation for his effort was worth more than anything he could imagine. He felt good about it and was proud to have the opportunity to be able to do something a little magical, and make a real difference.

After a resounding round of applause for Andrew's performance the VP took him aside and chastised him for not submitting the expense claim for the duplicate tape (only kidding.)

What a hero! This young man discovered an opportunity to WOW a customer and went for it, without regard to expense or personal effort. And it was not about money. It was about his basic values and how he could make them real and make a positive difference in the life of another person.

Well done Andrew. You are indeed a hero.


The Author


Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in High Performance Retail in The CEO Refresher Archives
The CEO Refresher

Copyright 2003 by Rick Sidorowicz. All rights reserved.

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