Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Carol Award

The Carol Award
By Gil C. Schmidt

If you haven’t met Carol yet, please do so now. Scroll down to previous TIPS Columns and read all about a remarkable young lady who runs an Internet-based business with her husband, has a marvelous grasp of what customer service really needs and is pretty much the perfect customer as well.

Since that combination is so rare—customer service expertise united with being a thoughtful customer—T.I.P.S. Newsletter would like to institute The Carol Award, to be presented not only to examples of great customer service, but also to the customers who make our lives as business people a true joy.

To qualify someone for a Carol Award, simply tell us your experience of great service or that moment when a customer turned your whole day/week/month around.

Here are my two Carol Awards (one is for me!):

I was hired to do a Christmas Web Marketing campaign for VERNet, an educational software firm based in Puerto Rico. The company’s president, Manuel Figueroa, worked closely with me on the elements of the campaign and the coordination with the Internet Service Provider that would manage the Web portion of the campaign. Two days before the launch, the ISP told us that they had not done any of the work and that the campaign could not be done. Rather than skip paying me, Manuel stated that I had done my part and he would honor our agreement and pay the second half of my fee. That was almost 10 years ago and I still seek out ways to help Manuel and his company, for no money, but simply to honor his professionalism and integrity. A Carol Award to Manuel Figueroa!

Again, Christmas, this time a late afternoon Christmas Eve shopping trip with a couple of friends in Woolworth’s. (Yes, this was some time ago.) The cashier, a young lady in her mid-20s, was haggard, her whole body a slumping curve of exhaustion. The line behind me had 10-12 people in it when she started adding up my purchases. After a few seconds I said to her “It must be hard to work Christmas Eve.” She barely nodded. “Is your family waiting for you?” She nodded again, but this time she was looking at me. “Do you have a big family?” Her eyes brightened a little as she nodded. “It’ll be fun to see them all tonight, won’t it?” She said “Yes” and smiled. “And that’s only 2 hours away, right?” She laughed. “It seemed like 20 a minute ago!” Now I smiled. “Start celebrating now, with them,” I said, pointing at the people in line, “And then share all that Christmas spirit with your family.” The young lady smiled, straightened up and looked 10 years younger. As I left the store, one of my friends turned me around to see the young lady, now laughing and vibrant. For recognizing that someone just needed a little personal attention to get back in the groove of customer service, a Carol Award to me!

I’d like to thank Carol for her wonderful examples and Diana for putting together a resource that goes to the heart of business success. And unlike other awards that limit themselves for greater impact, the more Carol Awards we hand out, the better!


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