Sometimes we all want to hear a story about humanity that reminds us that there are good people out there. I have two for you today. Hopefully it helps to make the world feel kinder, especially with all the crap on social media today between the Presidential candidates, Syria, and oh I could go on.
This story is about a woman who quickly got on an American Airlines flight (with her 3 month old baby) to see her mom, who had a stroke and was told by nurses she might not wake up. After sitting on the plane, they were told that due to maintenance, the flight was cancelled. The woman on the plane next to her heard her talking and crying to her husband, and told her she was not going to leave her until she was on a plane to Orlando to see her mom.
After finally figuring out that Southwest had a $400 flight to Orlando, the woman who would not leave her was adamant that she was going to pay for the flight — that it was her Thanksgiving and Christmas gift to her. Wow. A perfect stranger. The woman was able to get on the flight and see her mom that night. The Southwest agent also sent her an email checking in on her and giving her the contact information of the woman who purchased the ticket. So amazing — it warms my heart to know that there are people in this world that are so kind and so generous. Read the full story here.
My next “wow” moment this week was reading about an anonymous donor paying $106,000 in layaways at 2 Ohio Walmart stores. The article states: “Items on layaway included toys, 70-inch televisions and even a pair of socks.” I did not know that stores still offered layaway, but it makes it so that someone can dote on others in a big or small way, much like someone might pay for the car behind them in a drive thru Starbucks.
People really are kind. They really do care. Whether you end up meeting the person that is generous or whether it remains anonymous, it brings all the goodness front and center to the muck that sometimes permeates the news and social media. Pay it forward.
The dilemma of going on vacation — coming back from vacation to an inbox full of emails. I know how many emails I get on a daily basis, and multiply that by the number of days away makes for a long time to catch up when you return. I hate to think about all the emails I will have when I return from vacation before I go on vacation.
“The car and truck maker has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their email software to automatically delete incoming emails while they are on vacation.
When an email is sent, the program, which is called “Mail on Holiday,” issues a reply to the sender that the person is out of the office and that the email will be deleted, while also offering the contact information of another employee for pressing matters.”
That would be amazing. What baffles me a bit though is it says offering contact information of another employee for pressing matters. I am a bit of a customer service buff. So is that like writing to a store that happens to be closed and their auto reply is to have you send them an email during the hours they are open? What is the person who emailed the individual on vacation supposed to do if they do not have a pressing matter? Make a reminder for themselves to contact them again a week later? Feels like it would be amazing for the individual on vacation, but not such great service for the person who needs their help.
Separate from needing help, what about organization emails that share pertinent information? Those I assume would get deleted as well? That does not make sense to me either. Part of sending a mass message like that is to inform a large group of people at one time. The sender assumes the recipient will read the information and consume it at their convenience. It is up to the recipient to retain that information, but if you were on vacation and had “Mail on Holiday” you might miss out on necessary information to do your job.
It is a topic that comes up often at work, but never mind that right now. I want to talk about service in my backyard. In my living room, on the phone, and wherever I might be. We all want it right? When we go into the store we want the person working in the store to not bug us too much, but be extremely helpful when we are ready for their help. We want to know when we call our bank or credit card company that they will help us with their questions, and make us feel good about the choices we have made to be a patron of their company. They make money off us right? So why should we be made to feel like we owe them?
Here are a couple of recent examples — and by recent, I mean in the last week. There is not enough time in my day to even list out all from the past month. Yes, I am a service addict and I tend to never forget how I was treated by companies. Really, if you think about it, service levels leave a permanent, laser-etched mark in your mind about their brand. You never forget a horrible service experience and you rarely forget an amazing one — if you ever have one.
Anyway, on to the examples:
Redbox: Over the weekend we reserved a movie on the Redbox app. When Chris went to pick it up, the machine did not work, so he went to another kiosk and rented from there – but since we weren’t able to pick up the movie at the kiosk we reserved it at, we needed to let them know so they would not charge us and so they could be alerted to the problem. Now, I do not care about the $1.50 I was charged, but I do care about principle. If everyone that reserved a movie at that machine did not contact them, how much are they making on their customers, and how many customers would they frustrate?
Their response to our email? They’ll give us a “credit” for another movie to use in the next 30 days. Sorry, but I actually paid for two movies, not one. So credit my account for the amount I was charged in error for your faulty machine. I rarely use Redbox and most likely I am not going to remember to use my “credit.” Plus, I might not even have the chance to use it in the next 30 days. Their solution is better for them, but not for the customer.
Contractors: Dating back to last May we have contacted over 30 contractors to do work on our house. Out of the 30+, maybe 5 have actually followed through with the appointment, and 2 of the 5 have given us bids. I know it is a booming housing market and they have all the business they can possibly handle, but do they realize how brand damaging it is? Service = following through with appointments, calling customers back, and providing bids so homeowners can make educated decisions. We cannot do any of that without contractors providing a very easy service. If you are one of the 30 you will never have our business – your brand has already been damaged.
Why oh why is it so hard for companies to see that one of the most important parts of how they communicate with their customers is how they serve them? With there being more and more options available from many different companies, if you can move or change companies or providers and find one that actually understands how to take care of customers, then those are the companies that are going to make it. It is all in the little things and in the details. Follow through, be accountable for problems, and fix them is the brand image customers remember.
Do you ever have those days when you realize you have no more toilet paper? You have just used the last piece and you look in the hall closet and find out you dropped the ball? The next option is to use facial tissue, but you pull one out and find out it is the last one too. You do not have time to go to the store until late that night, and that is the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day.
Imagine having a button near where you stock up on toilet paper, facial tissue, trash bags, diapers (the list goes on). You see that you are almost out, and with a click of the button Amazon will send you refills right away. You do not have to get online and place a new order. The click of the button does all the work for you.
There are currently 18 buttons for different brands. The cost of each button is $5, and are only available for Amazon Prime members. An excerpt for how it works from Amazon.com:
“Amazon Dash Button is simple to set up. Use the Amazon app on your smartphone to easily connect to your home Wi-Fi and select the product you want to reorder with Dash Button. Once connected, a single press automatically places your order. Amazon sends an order alert to your phone, so it’s easy to cancel if you change your mind. Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.”
Seems easy, and the future of how consumers might purchase everyday items such as shampoo, detergent, toilet paper — really anything that you get the same of every time. Only thing that randomly comes to me — kids that find the button and have a little fun. You might just have a truck load of toilet paper.