Going Above and Beyond

Lompoc

Companies known for great customer service do an excellent job of service recovery. Disney is one of the best at applying this principle on a daily basis. It’s a smart business practice that wins you strong customer loyalty.

Now let’s take that principle to the next level. What if a company goes above and beyond; not because they are in service recovery mode, but to fix a mistake the customer makes? I had this type of experience recently and it resulted in one of those coveted “Wow-your-Customer” scenarios.  

My partner and I had gone hiking at one of Portland’s beautiful parks. Afterwards, we decided to stop by Lompoc’s Oaks Bottom Public House for some post-hike refreshments. When we got the bill, we pulled out our AMEX credit card to settle up. To our dismay, we discovered that Oaks Bottom doesn’t take AMEX credit cards for payment. Yikes! Now we were stuck with a bill that we couldn’t pay because we only had that one credit card (no sense taking cash when you are out hiking in the woods).

We were trying to figure out where the nearest ATM was located so we could get the cash needed to pay our bill. The manager (Todd) came by and instead of making this our problem to solve (which it truly was), he offered to settle the bill himself. He told us that he trusted us to come back the next day and pay him back.

We were so impressed and grateful for Todd’s help that we went back later that evening instead of the next day. As appreciation for his trust and generosity, I spent additional money on some take-out beer and a bigger tip when I settled up with him.

Todd fixed our mistake and by doing so, he gained two fiercely loyal customers who are not shy about letting others know what a great place Lompoc’s Oaks Bottom Public House is.

Todd gave us a memorable service experience that typifies the friendly and trusting nature of our beloved Portland. He didn’t have to go “above and beyond” to help us out, but he did it anyway. That’s not service recovery; it’s “service magic”!

P.S. Hey Todd, thanks again, you totally ROCK!

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11 Responses to “Going Above and Beyond”

  1. Suzanne Says:

    Most small businesses won’t take that leap of faith that their customers would return to pay their bill. But in doing so, he created loyalty that transcends typical dining experience characterstics. You could have had mediocre food and perhaps less than perfect service but the fact that he was willing to accommodate your situation, you will always regard it as a great place. I’m going to have to check it out!

  2. Connie Dorigan Says:

    Great article Anne. What’s that saying…any friend of yours is a friend of mine? I can’t wait to head over to Oaks Bottom Public House for some “Wow-your-Customer” service and for some tasty beer!

  3. servicerox Says:

    Suzanne – you are so right, there aren’t many businesses that would have taken that risk. We went there for a good beer (their seasonal Monster Mash porter was on-tap which is fab) and left completely won-over by our experience.

    If you do check them out, we highly recommend their seasonal porter beer and their fries (hint: ask for a side of their roasted-garlic mayo). Yum!

  4. servicerox Says:

    Connie – sure, let’s plan on an outing sometime soon! 🙂

  5. Ken O. Wagner Says:

    Love the loyal customer…to the “fiercely loyal” customer description… reminds me of the Bob Farrel story, give them the pickle!!

    Been a while since I have been there, and will now make a point of returning.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ken

  6. servicerox Says:

    Hey Ken – I think he gave me a whole jar of pickles! When you stop back in, say “hi” to Todd for me 🙂

  7. Rick Spies Says:

    Hi Anne:

    I’m curious if you felt that “the business” was accommodating you, or do you think the manager payed the bill out of his own pocket to settle the books and was personally trusting you.

    It’s a subtle nuance, but may be worth understanding if Todd, as the manager, has the flexibility make such an arrangement (a nod to the owners) or if he personally assumed the risk (a nod to Todd.)

  8. servicerox Says:

    Hey Rick – To your point, I think it was Todd’s decision and not company policy. But if his primary concern was to balance the books, he could have made us go to an ATM and come back with the cash.

    In a customer’s eyes, Todd is “the business”. I’m glad that policy didn’t constrain his handling of the situaion. Front-line service & support should have the flexibility to take reasonable risks when handling the unusual or “out of the box” situations. He took a risk but was rewarded with customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth advertising.

    Thanks for your comment – subtle nuance and great insight!

  9. Peter Korchnak Says:

    What a contrast to that one other chain whose bad service you highlight in another post (I don’t go there anymore either, for precisely the same reasons as you describe). Thanks to you, I now like Oaks Bottom Public House even more.

    I had a similar experience recently at the Three Friends coffee shop, and blogged about it:

    http://www.semiosiscommunications.com/trusting-customers-brings-repeat-business/

  10. servicerox Says:

    Hi Peter – Nice! Your blog post does an excellent job of showing how building trust results in repeat business. I especially like the “socially sustainable” term – so true and the micro-IOUs seem so “Portland” too.

    Just like the Surf-wax guy, I also spent more money when I went back to settle my bill.

    The article you linked to in your post is very interesting – while it is intuitive to me that this is a good business practice, it is nice to learn that there is actually research done that supports it.

    Thanks for sharing your insight – much appreciated.

  11. Building Customer Trust « Says:

    […] right thing. A couple of marvelous examples of this trust-building principle in action include my recent experience at Oaks Bottom Public House and Three Friends Coffee House’s “micro-IOU” […]

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