Wednesday July 10, 2013

Kindness is Never Wasted

I had an amazing experience with a retailer recently.

Last June I purchased a laptop bag from Crumpler. I had surfed their site trying to figure out what bag I wanted, and then finally called to chat with one of their representatives to get their opinion. I ended up selecting their “Boston Heist” bag.

The bag was everything I’d come to expect from Crumpler as far as style and quality, but I grew to really dislike the bag. The laptop compartment of the bag was far too big for my MacBook Air(It was designed for a 17”) and it threw off the balance and structure of the whole bag. (1st world problems, right?)

Fast forward 12 months.

On a whim I send an email to Crumpler sharing my disappointment in the bag. After all, I had discussed the type of laptop I had with the representative, and they didn’t steer me away from this model. I asked if there was any way we could work out some kind of exchange. (After a year of using it! A pretty outlandish request, I admit.)

Morgan, from Crumpler, replied to my request within a day. He reminded me of their return policy and that it had been over a year since I purchased the bag.

Then he went on to ask if I had a different bag in mind that I thought would work better.

Long story short, Morgan sent me a brand new bag that better suited my needs. Not only that, in conversation he learned that I was leaving for Guatemala a few days later, and shipped the bag FedEx overnight, so I’d have it for my trip- at Crumpler’s cost!

Not only that, but he told me to just go ahead and keep the original bag I purchased a year ago.

“You might consider using it as an overnight or weekend bag,” he said. “I use mine for that all the time.”

I was blown away- an extraordinary experience with a retailer. More than great “customer service”, Morgan extended kindness to me.

K, that was about 5 weeks ago, and I love the new bag. Now for a new story:

I attended World Domination Summit this past weekend in Portland.

On the last day of the event, I was walking back from the after-party, and found a gadget on the sidewalk. Not just any gadget, but a FitBit activity tracker, something I’d been jonesing for for quite some time. My lucky day!

But of course I knew it must have been dropped by another attendee, so I posted about it in the event forum. No replies.

I played with the device a bit. At one point it flashed what appeared to be the owner’s first name. Mildly disappointed that this gizmo didn’t actually appear on the sidewalk for my enjoyment, I set out to find this “Bob” guy.

A couple facebook searches led me right to him. The owner was in fact at the WDS event. 5 minutes later I was talking with him. He lives in New York City and was overjoyed to get my call. Turns out the FitBit has had some very special meaning to him- something he uses religiously every single day.

When I get to the mail center to send it to him, I’m given several shipping options. U.S. Priority was estimated to be 5 or 6 days. Overnight Express would get there by 10:30 the next morning, but was obviously quite a bit more expensive.

I couldn’t help but ask myself- what would I want? I bet this guy will be thrilled out of his gourd if this thing shows up tomorrow morning at his office. That might just make his day again!

If I can waste $50 a month on Starbucks, I can pony up for overnight shipping. So I did it. Overnight baby.

And you know what, it was kind of a thrill. Kindness carries it’s own reward for the giver.

I’ll probably never meet this guy again. You never know. I may never buy another Crumpler bag, though I probably will. No matter what, there’s a pleasure in being kind to others, whether it’s a business transaction or a chance encounter like this little widget I found.

What if more businesses handled customer experience like this? Would they all go bankrupt from such outlandish, counter-intuitive business behavior? Or would something else happen?

I suppose this isn’t really all that different from the ol’ “Do unto others…” bit.

Or maybe it is. I suppose what I’m suggesting is we look for the opportunity to delight. That feels different to me than “doing the right thing”.

Either way, I’m convinced, kindness is never wasted. Not ever.

live update And now, I’m hit with, “when was the last time I delighted my wife?” When was the last time I chose “overnight express shipping” for her? Alas, a work in progress…

Who have you delighted lately? Who’s delighted you?

Chris Nordyke is an integrated marketer and strategy consultant. He works with owners and senior business leaders to transform and grow service companies via a unique holistic approach that drives referral business and client retention. Click here to schedule a complimentary consult with Chris.

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