For the last three years, anyone who has followed my writing exploits will be fully aware that I am keen on sharing a story or two…or three…or four!! I have always believed that a good story can bring to life any theory and when it comes to the world of Customer Experience, the power of influence a good story can have is undeniable.
The stories that are often the most powerful are those that prove the art of what is actually possible. They are sometimes an inspiration to those who are looking for evidence that ‘doing the right thing’ for customers is something that can have as significant effect on an organisation as the numbers on a spreadsheet going in the right direction.
Last year I shared two such stories – one that demonstrated an unbelievable level of customer empathy and connectedness from four McDonalds workers in the UK and one about the amazing magic of Disney. Both stories show that if you WANT to do the right thing for your customers…..you can. The stories also demonstrate how employees that are ALLOWED to do the right things for customers WILL!
A common thread between the stories is that what the employees of these organisations actually did is not difficult. I have always believed that doing the right things for customers is actually one of the easiest things in the world. If a company enables the words ‘yes I can’ to be embedded in the psyche of its employees, then more can/could/should be generating similar stories.
A couple of weeks ago, another story was brought to my attention. It epitomises exactly what I am describing. The story is one of caring and kindness – a story that clearly demonstrates an empathetic connection between a company employee and a customer. What the employee did is so simple, it may leave you wondering why it went viral – it is because what this employee did is so rarely seen in society today that it appears to be unusual.
Eighteen year old Christian Trousedale is a part time stock assistant for an Aldi supermarket in the North West of England. Christian spotted a 95 year old customer about to leave the store with a bag full of shopping on a very windy day. Asking his boss if he could help the customer get home, Christian was given ‘permission to do so’ – his boss thought it ‘would be the right thing to do’. So, holding the pensioner’s hand, Christian walked him all the way home, chatting with him along the way.
Christian’s action was noticed by a passer-by who took a photo of Christian and the 95 year old and posted it on Facebook. The picture has been shared thousands of times all over the world. Christian is slightly bemused by the whole thing – he thinks that what he did is just ‘normal’! Christian is absolutely right, but how many people would not have even thought to ask if they could do the same thing? How many bosses would have said that it might be the ‘right thing to do’, but that they were ‘too busy’ to do it? You can read the full story here.
Any company can do the right thing for customers if they want to. By instilling a culture of ‘yes you can’, rather than ‘we don’t do that’, will have the effect of unleashing the emotional bond that can be generated between people – customers and employees. To do that you may have to break a few rules now and then – but breaking rules to do what is right has to be better than sticking to the rules and doing what is wrong.
I take my hat off to Christian – and to Disney and to the four lovely McDonalds ladies who turned up again at my Grandma’s 101st birthday on the 1st May with a lovely birthday cake. Keep on doing what is right – keep on doing what is normal. I can only hope that the more people who read your stories, the more people will be inspired to do what is normal too!
This post was originally written exclusively for my column, “Doing the Right Thing for Customers and Employees” on CustomerThink, a global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises. The site serves 80,000+ visitors per month from 200 countries.