Merge's Blog

Exceptional customer service starts with small actions

As leaders, we have the responsibility to nurture and maintain organizations that deliver great customer service – where our employees are responsive to our clients so that they not only have wow experiences that keep them as lifelong customers, but also compel them to tell others about us.  Which is why I am always very excited when I experience companies that get it!  In the past I’ve blogged about G Adventures’ commitment to their values, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani’s unusual personalized approach, and Hai de Lao China’s way-and-beyond customer service.  An interaction with the travel clothing company Tilley Endurables was a recent pleasant surprise.

In April, during a visit to Toronto, I stopped in at their main store to purchase a pair of zip-off pants.  If you’re not familiar with Tilley, this is a company that designs and manufactures top-notch travel clothing with many unique features.  Zippered and Velcro closures, secret pockets, reinforced stitching in key areas, extra loops and buckles, all design elements that are a blessing to those who travel a lot.  Despite purchasing these pants in April, I didn’t actually get a chance to wear them until late last month … which is when I discovered a small shortcoming.  This is the tongue-in-cheek email I sent to Tilley’s customer service department.

On my last visit to Toronto, I purchased a pair of zip-off pants from your retail store in Don Mills.  I wore them for the first time this past week and discovered that they have NO BELT LOOPS!  I am a huge Tilley fan BUT what were you thinking?  Travel pants without belt loops!!  You do know that belt loops are used for belts plus a whole lot of other things when you travel, right??  Please send me some of the material you used for these pants (khakhi tight-weave fabric) and I will have a local seamstress attach some belt loops for me.  Many thanks!

I figured if they sent me some of the fabric, I could have the loops attached by a seamstress here in Calgary.  Imagine my surprise when I received a short-and-sweet response less than 24 hours later.

Dear Mrs Gupta-Sunderji,

Thank you for contacting Tilley. I am sorry to hear about the disappointment with your recent purchase.  We would be happy to add the belt loops to your pants. Just send them in with your name, address, phone number and a brief note stating what you need.

Wow!  I was impressed.  Agreed, this isn’t a huge deal in the large scheme of things, not for Tilley, nor for me.  But it’s the fact that they exceeded my expectations that makes the difference.  I would have been happy receiving a swatch of fabric in the mail. But that meant that I would have to find a seamstress, take it to her, and then pay to have the work done.  Tilley just made my life a lot easier.  And I (greatly) appreciate and value that!  The pants are in the mail to Tilley and I eagerly await their return, this time avec belt loops.

So … what examples have you observed of great customer service in action?  And perhaps more importantly, what are you doing to create a climate in which your clients’ expectations are exceeded?  It doesn’t have to be anything sizeable or earth-shattering … as you can see, it’s the small actions that can sometimes have the greatest impact.  Do share!

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