In the days that followed Maya Angelou’s recent passing, people from across the world took time to remember the woman and her body of work. One of Maya Angelou’s most popular quotes that made the rounds online delivers a message that should be emblazoned on the front of every customer experience training binder:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
To better understand how this idea has played out in the real world, I set off to find stories of exemplary customer service that left people remembering a great feeling as a result. What I found was a little different.
I found the truth of Maya Angelou’s statement, but not in the way I hoped. It seems that when an organization gives a customer a negative feeling, that one stands out much more than a positive one.
Fortunately, it is possible for this to work in a positive way as well.
Three winters ago our furnace broke for the fifth time. We had continued to fix it, but it was obviously time to replace it. Even though it was the dead of winter, we wanted to do our due diligence with this purchase.
I made three phone calls to reputable companies to give us a quote. Being ignorant of how to buy a new furnace, I listened carefully to all the details while the salesmen and I sat in our coats at the dining room table. Each salesman made such a strong, “hard-sell” sales pitch that it left us feeling skeptical.
So we turned to social media and learned of Larry Ferris. Or even more importantly, he learned of us.
Before I could even call him, he texted us and said he could come by that morning. When Larry came in the house, he saw my son (who was sick) and I bundled under multiple blankets. He took one look at us and said, “I don’t even care if you pay me, but I’m not leaving until you have heat.”
The heat was on in less than an hour, and he took me to the basement to show me what he did. He then sat down with me to go through what he could offer. Half frozen after three days without heat, I would have paid almost anything to get a new furnace. Yet, he ended the meeting by telling us that, with the new part, he didn’t even think we needed a new one.
Two years later the furnace did break, and you’ll bet we called Larry Ferris to fix it. We called him when the air conditioner broke too.
When thinking about Maya Angelou’s quote, I remembered my experience with Larry. In a sea of skepticism and freezing temperatures, he left us feeling cared for, and now I tell everyone we know about him. In fact, I just did it again.
Do you remember a time when an organization’s service made you feel great?
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