Service: “Wow, sometimes you make a crazy request, you get an awesome answer”

“At this very moment, I knew why Gandhi ever lived because with people like Jackie, mankind is worth saving after all…. Wow, sometimes you make a crazy request, you get an awesome answer.”  A delighted customer

There is a lot written about service and all kinds of tips, tricks and recipes are put forward for people/organisations which are looking for the latest silver bullet for improving customer service and/or the customer experience.  Usually the bullet consists of some kind of training for people, playing around with the KPIs,  rewarding the front line people differently, redesigning processes and making changes in technology. When I read this stuff I ask myself, why is it that so many of us are still trapped in the web spun by Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management?

You may have noticed that I don’t put forward recipes.  Why?  They just don’t work in the real world.  The same recipes have been pushed, in many different guises, for such a long time. And what is the state of customer service as experienced by customers?

I have a very different take on the service and why it is that service is so poor.  In this post I wrote “..what we see, how we see it, what we focus on, what we do and the results that show up cannot be ‘greater than’ the concept we live/act from.  I say that service sucks because our concept of service sucks. Put differently given the existing concept of service that holds us prisoner it is inevitable that service sucks.” I went to write:

Service is a gift that one human being bestows on a fellow human being.  The fundamental basis and the desired outcome of Service is human dignity itself: honouring our shared humanity – the best of our shared humanity as in when we move-touch-inspire and elevate one another. The kind of humanity that can move us to tears of joy.”

Today, I find myself in a position to illustrate what I am pointing at here by inviting you to watch two short videos where  one customer encounter a human being that clearly lives that which I am pointing at in my definition.  She is the kind of human being that my friend Richard Shapiro calls a Welcomer in his book The Welcomers Edge.  Who is this human being?  Her name is Jackie, she works in a Krispy Kreme store in Austin, Texas.  This is what the customer has to say regarding his encounter with Jackie:   “At this very moment, I knew why Gandhi ever lived because with people like Jackie, mankind is worth saving after all…. Wow, sometimes you make a crazy request, you get an awesome answer.”

Here are the two videos, the first is the video of the first encounter between the customer and Jackie where he makes a crazy request.  The second is a follow-up interview with Jackie where she shares how she relates to herself, her colleagues, her customers. Both of them are more instructive than a ton of books, a ton of theory.  Enjoy and learn!

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

8 thoughts on “Service: “Wow, sometimes you make a crazy request, you get an awesome answer””

  1. A great post Maz. The killer at the end, when after putting in all that work, she gave it to him for free, was astounding. It left me wondering if this could ever backfire – is the Krispy kreme in Austin now busy with people asking for crazy things, and then getting disappointed with a “no” or if asked to pay? In the example, the store seemed quite quiet, but I am guilty of getting frustrated when waiting in line, if someone is (IMHO) being “over served”. Genuine questions – what do people think?

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    1. Hello John

      Great questions John, thanks for asking them and sharing your thinking, your concerns.

      Let’s start with what occurs to me as crucial – the store was pretty much empty. I am clear that the store being empty created a context, a clearing, for Jackie to show up as great. Because, she was not under pressure I imagine it occurred to her that she had the space, the freedom, to take on/consider the customer’s crazy request. Now, what seizes me is this: being great with the customer was only one possibility amongst many possibilities and I imagine the route that she took was not the standard/default/recommended route laid down by Krispy Kreme. It occurs to me that Jackie is great. And the store being empty give her the space to be great.

      The lessons. Recruit people like Jackie – Welcomers, in Richard Shapiro’s language. And then create the space for them to show up as great. This means balancing the cultish devotion to ‘efficiency’ with the aspiration/ambition for ‘greatness/effectiveness”. Put differently, if your staff you busy and under pressure (that is to say you run a lean/efficient operation) then they will not take on crazy requests, they will not step into the unknown, they will not be creative. Why? Because, there simply is not the space for them to show up that way.

      As for your concern about other people showing up at the store, making crazy requests, getting a “no”, being asked to pay. It occurs to me that this is the kind of fear that paralyses organisations – stops them from responding to the crazy requests. And I say that this fear is overblown. Would you do that? I suspect the answer is “no”. I know that I would not do that either. That is my point: almost all of us know what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Did you notice, how uncomfortable the customer was in making the request and then handling how Jackie responded? Did you notice how it floored him when it was given as a gift? No, I think most of us would want to visit that store to honour our humanity and get assurance that the world IS a good place. That our fellow human beings, despite all that does not work/please us, are/can be great. I found it interesting that Jackie has a fan base now! Why? She represents an IDEAL that speaks to primal part of us and which is disowned by our culture and our way of conceiving/speaking/showing up in the world. What am I talking about? I am talking about, CAN DO STANCE, GENEROSITY and KINDNESS> The glues that have enabled human beings to work together and take on the most formidable challenges

      I hope that does justice to your questions.

      At your service / with my love
      maz

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  2. Your posts and replies are always stimulating. Made me think of my experience yesterday with a company that thinks they are the Golden Child of service – Apple.
    I want to buy an ipad mini. I went to my local store on Tuesday to find they had none, but was told to call in the morning and see if they had any in, and ask them to hold one for me. Not bad so far – a popular product in demand.
    Yesterday I rang at 9:00am, and held for a few minutes in the queue. Good news – they had one with the spec I wanted. I said “I will be there in an hour, can you hold it for me?”.
    “No, sorry”
    “I’ll give you my credit card info now”
    “No”
    “But I’ve spent thousands of pounds in your store” (Kingston by the way).
    “No”.

    …and when I got there they had sold out.

    Apple do not care about me as a valued customer over a number of years, because they have a product that everyone wants. Perhaps I should have reminded them I also bought three Apple Newton’s in the 80’s.

    Yes, I still want an iPad mini (it is a gift) but will perhaps try John Lewis to get it.

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    1. John
      Many thanks for your feedback – my commitment it to expand the mind and unchain the heart! Glad to hear that I say shows up as stimulating for you.

      As for Apple, I am in total agreement. Apple are not authentically customer-centred. And it does not provide a great customer experience irrespective of what many say – I found this out recently. With great products (with the user experience being great) Apple is doing remarkably well. And has arrived at the place where every company wants to be – monopolist through great products. Remind you of Microsoft, Google etc? None of these companies are customer-centred.

      As for your iPad, John Lewis shows up as a great idea. I once wanted a Sony Vaio – a light sexy laptop back in 2003 and I rang John Lewis. They agreed to reserve it for me. When I turned up they had it for me. And I walked out happy!

      All the best and many thanks for a great conversation. And for your kindness and generosity – it really makes a huge difference.

      Maz

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  3. Maz,

    I love the video, I can see a whole host of lessons.

    I do take umbrage (not in a violent way you will be glad to here) at one of your statements though:

    Usually the bullet consists of some kind of training for people, playing around with the KPIs, rewarding the front line people differently, redesigning processes and making changes in technology

    I fully agree that there are no magic bullets, but I think that if I had played with training, KPI’s, reward structures,process and systems in that store. It wouldn’t have taken me long to mess it up so badly that there is no way that level of service would have happened.

    So whilst they may only be qualifying factors I feel there is more to good service than just the employees, the environment they work in has a huge impact.

    James

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    1. Hello James
      I don’t get where we are in disagreement. I have read and re-read your comment and it occurs to me that you and I are in complete agreement.

      So there is something I have not understood. If you can help me out on that then I’d be grateful.

      As always I welcome your voice here on The Customer Blog and enjoy hearing it and responding to it. So thank you for sharing your voice.

      maz

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  4. Hi Maz,
    A great couple of videos and ones that Illustrate that it is the human spirit that we should focus on hiring if we want to create a memorable and great customer experience.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Adrian

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    1. Hello Adrian
      YES, the human spirit! That says it all, that is what is the central theme of all of my speaking. Stand for a noble cause/mission, attract people who have that human spirit and create a context for this human spirit to flourish in the service of the noble cause/mission.

      You get that I am pointing at a revolution in business practice. And therefore you and I are advocating dropping pretty much everything that is taken as given, as sacred – what business is about, how to run business…

      Maz

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