I've had several outstanding customer experiences in the last two weeks that point to the importance of empowered and engaged employees on the front lines of an organization. I don't know how these organizations hire or train their people, but I know that the results are working (at least for me). Following is the story of the bright spots in a tough week.
My eighty year old father has Alzheimer's and last week we moved him into an assisted living apartment at an Erickson Community. Anyone who's been through this experience knows what a traumatic shift this is for a family, especially for we middle-aged children compelled to curtail a parent's independence in order to keep him or her safe. Since he and my late mother moved to an independent living apartment in this community in 2009, I've been impressed with the consistent quality of services and the outstanding attitude, kindness and professionalism of every member of their team. Dining, maintenance, social work, medical -you name it, these people are terrific. Without my mother, and with his dementia worsening, my father has needed escalating levels of support while we waited for an assisted living unit to be available. This transition, which our family dreaded, was accomplished smoothly through the exquisite sensitivity, skills and teamwork of every Erickson employee in the mix.
The one major glitch in this move was caused by the company from whom I'd ordered a new bed for my Dad - a month in advance of the move. They called hours before the move to announce they didn't have the bed. Enter my new customer service hero - Mattress Giant. They had a new bed in the apartment within 3 hours of my panicked call - due to the herculean efforts of the store manager on duty that day. And it turned out not to be his store as he was filling in for someone else. The other vendors I called, not to mention the original provider, were unable to help me due to a variety of system or process issues. Cal from Mattress Giant made it happen.
Though not related to the move, I had one near miss turn into a win with Cole Haan. I was returning a Christmas gift I'd purchased online for one of my kids. The item had gone on sale since I bought it, and the associate I was working with told me I could only get the sale price as a refund as I didn't have the original sales slip. The store manager, noticing my Cole Haan bag and shoes and sizing me up as a return buyer, quickly stepped in and refunded me the original price even though I didn't have the requisite documentation.
In every one of these situations, employees earned my continued loyalty and enthusiastic promotion of their organizations. Most of them broke some rules to earn it.
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