Act 1, some time before Valentine’s Day: A customer wants to surprise her husband with a bike from Zane’s Cycles as a Valentine’s gift. She makes a special request to place the bike in the store window - since she planned to take her husband by the store after a Valentine’s dinner when the store is normally closed. She gives the store balloons and a card to place on the bike for display and invites friends from work to see her husband’s reaction to the gift. However, before closing the store that day, an employee forgets to put the bike in the front window. Uh oh …
Act 2, February 15th: Chris Zane, owner of Zane’s Cycles, gets a voice mail from an extremely upset customer complaining that the store forget to display her husband’s gift as promised and ruined her Valentine’s Day surprise. Chris and his retail manager go into customer service “recovery” mode:
- They apologize to the woman and deliver the bike to her home. Even though the bike was purchased on layaway and only partially paid for, Zane’s waives the remaining balance.
- To make up for the disappointing Valentine’s Day, they give the woman and her husband a restaurant gift certificate for another dinner.
- And to make up for disappointing her friends from work who took the time to witness the Valentine’s Day gift, Zane’s sends a catered lunch to the woman’s workplace.
Even though the situation didn’t turn out as initially expected, the customer is happy with Zane’s response.
Act 3, about a week later: Chris receives a letter of apology from the employee who forget to display the bike. The employee knows how much effort went into this customer's recovery and includes a check for $400 to help cover the out-of-pocket recovery costs. As an hourly employee, the check represents about a week’s pay.
I love this story, and not just because of Zane’s Cycles’ extraordinary effort to recover from a negative customer service situation. What moved me most when I first heard Chris tell this story is how the employee acknowledged his role and tried to repay the company. It’s an incredible testament to the customer-focused and engaged culture that Chris Zane has built.
Note: Chris did not cash the check; he keeps it as a reminder of employees’ passion for service.
You can hear Chris tell this story in his own words on The CEO Show.