The cus­tomer comes first

The Covington News - - Front page -

Some­time ago I men­tioned the worst cus­tomer ser­vice and the best cus­tomer ser­vice I ever re­ceived — all in the same week. I reprise the saga be­cause the hero of the story re­cently and trag­i­cally died.

T o re­fresh your mem­ory, for a num­ber of years I had done busi­ness with a lo­cal in­vest­ment firm. The lo­cals sold the com­pany to a na­tional con­cern and moved on. I as­sumed noth­ing would change with the new folks in charge. Silly me.

Soon af­ter, I had a check to be de­posited in my ac­count. Be­cause I didn’t have time to park, I told the crack staff to send some­one down to pick up the check.

That didn’t sit well with the crack staff. They were very busy and I was in­formed that the firm “wasn’t a drive-in bank.” Be­cause I was a tad miffed (to put it mildly) with their ar­ro­gance, the firm added that it re­ally didn’t want my busi­ness any­more. They fired me be­fore I could tell them to al­lo­cate their as­sets where the sun doesn’t shine.

Hap­pily, I put my mea­ger money with a firm that seems to ap­pre­ci­ate me if not my im­pact on their bot­tom line and we have lived hap­pily ever af­ter, even in this dumper of a mar­ket.

While this snit was un­der­way, I read of a lit­tle wooden easel on sale at Binder’s Art Sup­plies in At­lanta, not far from the fi­nan­cial firm’s offices. The easel was $40 and small enough to leave at St. Si­mons for the times when I wished to scratch my artis­tic itch.

When I ar­rived at the store, I was told they were sold out but more easels would ar­rive later that day. When I came back, still no easels.

This was turn­ing out to be a bad-hair day. I was about as happy with Binders as I was at be­ing told I was not deal­ing with a “drive-in bank.” That is when some­one came over to in­quire about my dis­plea­sure. He turned out to be one of the co-own­ers, Jay Shapiro. He said he would have one in the shop the next morn­ing.

Sure enough, early the next morn­ing I was the proud pos­ses­sor of a lit­tle wooden easel. But how did the store man­age to get one de­liv­ered dur­ing the night? It turns out that Mr. Shapiro got in his car at 10 p.m. and drove 20 miles to pick it up at the ware­house.

He no doubt lost money on the sale, but he gained a loyal cus­tomer. Oth­ers have told me of sim­i­lar ef­forts he made on their be­half. No cus­tomer re­quest was too unim­por­tant for this man.

Jay Shapiro, 57, died a cou­ple of weeks ago of glioblas­toma, an ag­gres­sive type of brain tu­mor. He was di­ag­nosed only a month or so be­fore his death and I never got to tell him good­bye. He left us way too early.

In the mean­time, the poobahs at the fi­nan­cial firm have turned over faster than IHOP pan­cakes. In­ter­est­ingly, the lo­cals who first got me and my nest egg into their firm have started a new as­set man­age­ment com­pany. They are good, bright peo­ple and should do well in their new ven­ture. But they won’t do it with my hard-earned money.

For some un­fath­omable rea­son, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has brought on board the same peo­ple who de­cided good cus­tomer ser­vice didn’t in­clude get­ting their bo­hunkus down­stairs from their plush offices to pick up my check and in­vest it for my fam­ily’s fu­ture.

Can you imag­ine them driv­ing across town af­ter work to pick up a $40 wooden easel?

Peo­ple can run their or­ga­ni­za­tions as they choose. I can also spend my money where I choose. It’s not a hard choice. It de­pends on whether or not peo­ple want my busi­ness.

Why should all of this mat­ter to you? Just re­mem­ber that it doesn’t mat­ter if you are sell­ing wid­gets, want ads, ham sand­wiches, so­phis­ti­cated in­vest­ment ser­vices or $40 wooden easels — it is all the same. The dif­fer­ence is in how you treat the cus­tomer. The cus­tomer comes first. Not your ego.

Too many com­pa­nies have for­got­ten that. Jay Shapiro never did.

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