A day off for others is a work day for me.
As the Labor day weekend began, I realized that I had an extra day to work. Monday! Everyone else will be playing, and I can use this time to get further ahead of them. The list of to-do’s was longer than achievable (nothing unusual there), and the list of must-do’s was looming as at least half of my available time.
So I began on Saturday morning to write my next 2 columns plus my next 2 shows for my video internet training program (www.trainone.com, go there now) when all of a sudden, my printer decided to show me some error message that I have never seen before. Rats!
I tried everything. The usual, turning it off, turning it on, restarting, telling it I loved it. Nothing would work. So I called Tommy (Berry), our computer maven, and as expected, got his voicemail. I told him of my plight and hung up my phone resigning myself not being able to print until Tuesday.
Thirty-seven minutes later, the phone rings and Tommy says, “I got your message and I couldn’t let you wait until Tuesday.” I was at once excited, humbled, flattered, surprised, and wowed. Now grant you, I’ve been doing business with Tommy for 11 years. But he didn’t’ have to call, he wanted to call.
He calmly walked me through the solution (which, by the way, I would have never figured out in a hundred million years of trying on my own) and presto, it worked! I began back on my to-do list with a renewed sense of vigor and calm (make that renewed sense of vigor and panic, I work best under panic).
Got a ton of work done and outside (I get all my weather reports by looking outside) it was raining without a sign of let up. I could just picture 250,000 Charlottean’s complaining about the weather, while I was smiling at my computer and making money.
Sunday morning I arose to the ever present rain, which had now become torrential. I felt a drip at the end of the bed, and thought, oh crap, the roof is leaking. Sure enough the skylight we had just installed was leaking in buckets.
I said to Teresa, “Hey, lets call Wayneco Roofing.” And Teresa said, “It’s Sunday morning.” I said, “Yeah, but didn’t that guy give you his home number?” She hands me the number for Gary Campbell and said, “You call him.”
I think I woke up Mrs. Campbell. I asked for Gary, who came to the phone. As soon as I identified myself, he said, “Tell me the skylight is not leaking.” And I said, “Only in one corner.” He said, “That’s too bad. Let me see what I can do.”
Teresa and I had to run an errand (my first time out of the house in 2 days), and when we came back, the Wayneco truck was parked in front of our building. I took the elevator to the 4th floor and sure enough, there is Gary, out on the roof, in the rain, fixing it.
He explained what the problem was and told me the solution was simple. He would fix it temporarily today, and permanently on Tuesday. I thanked him about 300 times, we talked for a while, and he departed.
That afternoon, Mary Beth came over to begin entering my sports memorabilia collection in the new database written for me by the great John Kooy. As Mary Beth was diligently entering pieces of the collection, I realized several items were missing from the database. This messed up everything. So I tried to add them on my own, but as you know from my first bout with the computer, the results were not good. So I call John to tell him what I needed. I left a message on his recorder and figured he’d call me on Tuesday. We struggled through the next few hours.
Monday, it was still raining like cats and dogs (more dogs). Mary Beth came over again and the phone rings. It’s John Kooy. “Jeffrey,” he says, “I was away yesterday and got your call. What do you need?”
“Well the data base needs some more things added and I tried it myself and couldn’t do it.” I whined.
“I’m coming downtown in about and hour,” he said, “why don’t I just stop over?” “Great!” I said. John shows up, spends an hour, fixes the program, and teaches me how to do it myself the next time. John lingers, we talk for a while, I’ve know John as long as I’ve known Tommy. We’ve become friends.
What can we learn from these stories? First of all. Three things went wrong. Printer, roof leak, computer program. Second, on a holiday weekend, you would expect nothing to be taken care of, or maybe, if it were a miracle, one would be taken care of. But as I sat back in my chair and realized all the events taken place over the holiday weekend, it reinforced my belief in the element of service.
And when I look deeper, I realize that all three of these people were not only people of service, but people of character. They helped me because they wanted to. And they enriched my life, not just by the service that they performed, but by the people who they are.
None of them teach customer service, but all of them are among the finest living examples of it. They are not just successful in business, they are successful in life.
As I think back to every seminar that I have delivered over the last ten years that contains a segment on the ancient Chinese proverb, “to serve is to rule,” I feel good about the fact that somehow I’ve aligned myself in a positive way to those who rule.
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Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to email@example.com