What happens when a company wants to change its dubious customer service experience? Smaller companies can effect sweeping changes relatively quickly, given scale of the operation and general ability to be nimble. Large companies face much more complex and costly challenges because, generally speaking, they are unable to change on a dime. Let’s look at some challenges and solutions.
I’m really enjoying Chris Matyszczyk’s Absurdly Driven customer service column in Inc. Magazine. A new article focuses on the exceptional customer service Home Depot employees provided to a family needing a walker for their two-year-old son.
I won’t bury the lead. A Cedartown, Georgia store built him one while the family went for ice cream, and didn’t charge for materials or labor according to Matyszczyk.
Matyszczyk notes: “Two-year-old Logan Moore has a condition called hypotonia, which affects the tone and strength of his muscles. He needs a walker to help train his gait. His parents, Christian and Justin, fearing that their insurance company wouldn’t pay for such a thing, decided to find a cheaper way to build one…they found a video showing how to make a walker from cheap materials. The next step, quite naturally, was to go to Home Depot to find the materials. As Fox 5 reports, things took an interesting turn once they talked to Home Depot’s customer service staff.”
The article continues, “No sooner had the Moores explained their need than the staff got together to help. Now, when I say help, I mean they not only advised on the materials, as many Home Depot staff often do. They also built the walker…certainly not every Home Depot would have bothered not only to make it, but to put Logan’s name on it…The modern world has turned sharing into a word that means posting online. People often don’t feel like being charitable unless they get something back in return…Yet here were just three humans needing help and another group of humans going beyond what anyone could have imagined.”
Home Depot is a big company, just like the airlines we’ve been discussing. Evidently (or hopefully), Home Depot has officially empowered their workforces to go the extra mile, as happened in this situation. While it’s obviously positive PR, it’s also re-affirming that altruism is alive and well. (I’d like to think the staff did this out of the goodness of their hearts, and that the consequent news reports were a happy value-add for the company.) It sure plants a seed of content with me about Home Depot—one that will remain in my head and heart.
Perhaps United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz needs to be reminded of this cascading customer service effect. When one hears of good deeds such as this, it tends to stick—just like the bad. Perhaps if United Airlines and other big companies start paying attention to this dynamic, they will see their stock rise—in more ways than one.
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.