Transforming a Bad Break into a Triple Win

April 7th, 2009

Categories: Accommodation, Customer Service, Gratitude, Retail, Service

Matt Mecs, who has written a guest post here and most recently participated in the virtual focus group, “Do Good Manners = Good Service?” [February 13], shared a great experience with us. Matt is vice president, director of sales of Local Focus Radio. He’s also an instructor at Metropolitan College of New York.

Matt writes:

“The key broke in my bike lock that had a lifetime warranty, so I called a locksmith to cut it open with an acetylene torch, and bought a new lock the next day.

“I mailed the broken lock to Kryptonite and not only did they send me a new lock, they also paid me back for the cost of the locksmith!  To make things even better, my bike store took the new lock and gave me store credit for it, which ended up to their benefit when I bought a new bike from them.”

 Win-win: Smart business and great service on behalf of Kryptonite and the bike store. Matt also did the right thing. He could have looked for a super discount opportunity but was loyal to the local shop. Does Matt’s experience remind you of a similar one?

3 Responses to “Transforming a Bad Break into a Triple Win”

  1. Frank Quigley Said:

    Matt,

    What a great upbeat story! I couldn’t beat it even if I wanted to. So here’s one with a down beat.

    Some years ago, I worked for a warm, generous man of great charm who was reputedly very rich. He had borrowed far too much money from far too many banks, and didn’t seem to have the means to pay it back. He had recently hired me to try to straighten out the mess he was in. Among the first things I tried to do was reign in his truly regal spending habits – he kept Rolls Royce’s with drivers in both London and New York. I thought that at least the appearance of some austerity might mollify, if only slightly, his numerous bank creditors.

    As we were traveling back from London to New York together, I talked him into going Business Class instead of going First Class or on the Concorde as he usually did. We arrived at the British Air terminal at Heathrow only to find that the flight we were on was overbooked in Business Class. We didn’t insist, remained cheerful and were entirely pleasant when told to go sit down and wait to see if any space opened up for us in Tourist Class. A half hour later, the airline agent handed us two boarding passes for First Class, and we had a most pleasant flight to New York.

    Little did British Air, in its “good service” effort to do a favor for a valued client, know that as a consequence of their gesture, my boss’s banker creditors, who were never allowed to go First Class themselves when they traveled, were more than a little annoyed when they found out what had happened. Even though we had only paid for Business Class tickets, in a way the upgrade seemed to persuade them they would never be able to collect from somebody who flew First Class despite himself. The net result was that many of them prematurely wrote off their loans. The irony is that while British Air made their customer happy, they contributed, if only slightly, to the man’s loss of self-respect.

    Frank

  2. Thomas Yip Said:

    The bike shop reminds me of a case we studied in our management class – Au Bon Pain and the effectiveness of its profit-sharing plans motivating store managers to treat each store as if it’s a self-owned business. Unfortunately intangible rewards such as satisfaction are difficult to perceive, and long-run extrinsic rewards such as annual bonus are not always considered by short-sighted employees at the big chains.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Frank, I feel sad for British Air, doing something nice that in the end harmed their client more than helped. The old saw “no good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind.

    Thomas, there are so many intangibles that can’t be measured that are important to some and not to others. A company tends to attract people of like minds. If management has a generous spirit, the successful staff there will reflect it and also enjoy being munificent. Calculating the cost and impact of every gesture and action—as measurement initiatives such as Six Sigma, run amok, does–can harm more than help a company.

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