Customers can change our world too

In my recent post titled Jen’s World I described how we as customers should not only share responsibility for a positive customer experience but in fact take it upon ourselves to enhance the experience for the service provider. I believe that by doing so we will not only get better service but in a small way we make the world a better place. I know this sounds corny, or lofty depending on one’s perspective, but I really believe it. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, talks a lot about changing the world through a strong company culture. The Zappos company culture breeds happy employees who never want to leave the company. The happy employees are very happy to create great customer experiences because they love their company and take pride in their “Zappos Family” and what it stands for. The great customer experiences create customer loyalty. Customer loyalty creates profits for Zappos. Instead of spending all these profits on expensive marketing programs and slick advertising campaigns Zappos invests much of their profit right back into their employees. They do this through employee development programs, fun activities, and -like their number three core value suggests – through a “little weirdness”. This is a great cycle of success. For a full list of the ten Zappos Family Core Values go here : Zappos Core Values.

So with that in mind I think I made the world a better place today.  Here’s why.

I shopped in Jen’s world today. That big chain grocery store where, quite frankly, it’s hit or miss on the type of experience you will have. Last week when I was there I went through Sonia’s checkout line and started a conversation by asking how she liked her job. She half smiled and said it was ok while nodding her head no. I stayed with it and told her it was good to have a job, it wasn’t forever, she had bigger things in her future, etc. She opened up a bit and went on to tell me that she was in college and talked a about her major. We kept chatting while she finished up and I went on my way; thanking her by name while looking her in the eye.

Today I purposely went back to Sonia’s line. I said hello and thanked her for sending someone out last week with a bag of groceries I had forgotten. She said, “oh yeah, I remember that. You’re welcome. How are you doing today?” I’ve written about how customers don’t want to be invisible. Well neither does a service provider. It pleased Sonia that I recognized and acknowledged her at the start of our service interaction. She wasn’t invisible.

So this time Sonia initiated the conversation. She asked me if I had plans for the weekend. She probably didn’t really care if I did or what they were but because of the connection last week and acknowledgement this week she made the effort. I told her I was planning on playing golf. We went on to chat about the weather for my game tomorrow, how frustrating the game is, and so on. She said she was disappointed that she was working all weekend. I pointed out that making money is a good thing, especially for a student. She nodded yes and smiled. When Sonia smiled her whole face lit up and she seemed genuinely happy at her job at that moment in time. The bag boy Jessie contributed to the conversation and told me about the few times he had played golf.  For those few minutes the three of us aligned as customer and service providers with very similar goals.   My goal: to restock my refrigerator and pantry while having a positive customer experience. Sonia’s and Jessie’s goal: to deliver a pleasant customer experience while making some money. Mission accomplished!

So, yes I proudly take credit for the experience. Well half of it; one-third when you include Jessie. I’m pretty sure the three of us didn’t actually change the world today but maybe we gave it a slight nudge in the right direction. Not a Zappos-sized nudge, but a nudge none-the-less. As I left the store I realized I had a big smile on my face and I felt happy. Happy for the experience. It was too late by that time to look back over my shoulder to see Sonia and Jessie because I was outside of the store by then. But I’m pretty sure they were smiling too. Yes, I’m certain they were.

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