Saturday, December 12, 2009

When You Think of Great Service - A Dog's Tale

What do you think about when you think of great service?

In Access & Delivery Services, this is the question I try to keep at the forefront of my mind when training staff and when dealing with my patrons. Great service is the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary. It is the difference between a minor hassle and convenience. It may be the thing that makes someone's day and causes them to talk about you, blog about you, twitter about you, or send a really nice thank you note to you or your boss.

When I think of great service, I often recall the story about a woman who had intended to return her shoes to Zappos, the shoe mecca, but her mother died. A Zappos rep contacted her about the delay of her return, and not only arranged to deal with pickup of the shoes (against corporate policy), but sent flowers. The story is available here on Consumerist. It was such a strong display of simple humanity and kindness that I remember it often. That is above-and-beyond great service.

Today, Otto (who many of you know as my beloved basset hound of doom) presented a huge tennis-ball sized lump beneath the right side of his jaw. I, a doting puppymama, was horrified. Tumorcancerabcessdeathomg-thoughts sort of horrified. (You have heard of crazy cat ladies? Well, I am a crazy dog lady. Otto is my constant companion and only child, essentially.) Payday rolls around once a month for we university folks, and of course, what with the holidays and such, there's no way I was going to be able to afford to drag him in to the emergency clinics. I called them all anyway - cash or credit up front required, initial charge $15-$200, plus $500 and over for any testing and/or procedures. Cue the stressbarf. I emailed my usual vet, where Otto boards when I am away and does doggy daycare on occasion to set up an appointment for payday, hoping he didn't hatch an alien from his lymph nodes before December 22nd. I expected an email back Monday, when the vet re-opened.

Imagine my surprise when my gmail account coughed up a reply at 7:34pm, obviously past the noon closing time, long before the office reopens at 7:30am on Monday morning. Imagine my *greater* surprise to read the following:

Dear Ms. Harris,

We can certainly see Otto on Monday, December 21st. We have an opening at 8:40am or you could drop him off for the day and pick him up later that afternoon. If you think the lump is uncomfortable or cannot wait until the 21st, we can see him sooner and hold a payment until the following week. We do not want him to be uncomfortable. Just let us know.

Staff of KAMC
Kildaire Animal Medical Center

I was flabbergasted. I have never heard of such a thing. Otto now has an 8:30am Monday morning appointment with his vet, and I feel much less like I am killing my dog by having to wait to get him in. I already loved my veterinary staff and docs at KAMC - Otto is the only dog I know who runs *towards* the office rather than away from it, they treat him so well. I was already a loyal customer because of the nice treatment we had received in the past and the friendly staff. This, though - well, this is, as they say, "a whole 'nother level." This is great customer service. This is why I will not consider another vet, and will tell all my local friends to trust their furbabies to these folks. Because I was treated as not just another person with another want, but with compassion and understanding.

Thank you, Kildaire Animal Medical Center. You are a shining example to those of us who provide services to others. And I (and Otto) appreciate it. I am considering this an early Christmas gift, and am quite sure it will be the best one I receive.

Happy holidays to all, and please think on this - what have you done in your service provision to really make someone feel like you cared? How have you shown *your* customers/patrons/users/clients that they are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet, dollars on the bottom line, or transaction statistics?


T Scott said...

My own favorite service story is here:

Rudy said...

oh noes! how is otto?? What was the lump? how are you holding up?

Colleen said...

hi Rudy! The lump has shrunk on the doxycycline (sp?) the vet put Otto on. his lymph nodes are still swollen, so the vet thinks he's either got a tick-borne disease or a dental infection waiting to spring. I'm keeping an eye on Otto, but he's doing okay for now, which I am *thrilled* about. Now I'm just trying to get him to gain some weight (he lost a lot, despite not changing his eating habits) and letting him snuggle me while I'm vacationing :)I am fine - sinus infection (easily dealt with once I get to doc) has relegated me to the couch, which suits Otto perfectly!