Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Extra Mile(s)

I love good customer service. I don’t mean obsequiousness or fawning. What I really appreciate are people who like their jobs, understand their jobs, want to be sure that your customer experience is outstanding and go the extra mile to make that happen.

You know the scene in “Pretty Woman” where Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts shopping on Rodeo Drive? And shop owner Larry Miller asks Gere “How’s it going so far?” Gere replies: “I think we need some major sucking up.” I get that moment. That’s not what I mean by customer service, but I get it!

One of the reasons we are so loyal to L.L. Bean is because we have almost never, ever had a negative experience with any of their staff. Once in a blue moon you might come across an employee who is a little lackluster, but even that is quite rare. Today Chuck and I were in the Freeport, Maine “Flagship” store. It’s the one without locks on the doors because they are open 24/7/365. We had called all the smaller stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut to see if they had a particular rocking chair for our front porch. We wanted to be able to sit in it before we ordered it. None of the Southern New England stores had one on display. But when I called the Freeport store, they said yes indeed they had one we could try out. After some brief discussion, an impromptu road trip was organized and we headed north. We arrived at the building which houses the Home Store only to learn that they did not have that particular rocker on display!

Freeport is three hours from our home. Chuck and I may well be a couple of odd ducks, but we do not like wild goose chases! We explained to a young man named Chris why we looked both stunned and crestfallen. (Actually, I probably explained all my phone calls and our reason for driving three hours a few times!) Chris apologized for the inaccurate information we had received, but he couldn’t let us sit in a rocker he didn’t have. We discussed a variety of options with him. We sat in/on other chairs, benches and gliders. While we were hemming and hawing, Chris spoke with some other colleagues. Soon after, he emerged from a storeroom area with one of the elusive rockers! It was a damaged, returned rocker, but it was the one we had been seeking. Despite the damage, we were able to sit rather gingerly in it and found it to be as comfortable as we had hoped it would be. Yes!

We told Chris we would like to purchase two unassembled, flat-packed rockers in white, which, thanks to Chris, we already knew they had in stock, in the warehouse. Suddenly there was a new problem: the warehouse was closed! Closed? What about that whole 24/7/365 thing? Before we had a chance to plunge back into stunned and crestfallen, Chris said not to worry, they would have security open the warehouse for us. Come again? Yup. They would call security and we would meet them over at the Merchandise Pick Up Center.

That’s exactly what we did. Chris’s colleague Tim drove over to the warehouse and met us there. Soon after a security guard arrived. In no time, we had the rockers loaded up in the Subaru and we were on our way home. Tim even gave us a recommendation for where we could have dinner in Portland.

I love good customer service.


Jeff Barnard said...

Every summer, when I was a kid, our family went to Monson, Maine where we had a cabin. Enroute, we always stopped in Freeport at LL Bean, because that was one place we knew for sure we could get fresh wicks for all the kerosene lamps. This was before they made the place look so much more upscale. It was more like the old Spag's back then.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Love that service, it really is the sort of thing that brings you back again and again.
And now I'm picturing you & Chuck rocking on your porch in the warm spring.

Roo said...

Good for Chris, please tell me you have written to the store to tell them how good he was!

And a picture of the rockers? ;o)

Pink Granite said...

Hi Jeff -
A moment of silence for he old Spag's...

L.L. Bean still seems to have everything one could need, but they have fully embraced any and all technological advances when it comes to outdoor gear.
Over the years we've noticed a few growing pains, but the high quality of goods and consistently good service keep bringing us back.

Hi DMM -
Lousy customer service makes me crazy, so I truly value the good operations.
The warm spring has felt a bit too warm, but I'm glad we're set up for this summer and many to come!

Hi Roo -
We picked up a feedback postcard on our way out the door of the Home store. It will be in the mail today. Plus, I sent L.L. Bean a link to my post via Twitter!
Photos by tomorrow...