If you’re in the business of customer service or customer experience, you and your team can likely take a few lessons from Mostafa (aka Moose) at Home Depot in Oakville. I had the pleasure of dealing with him while purchasing a barbecue with a tight timeline. Here’s what happened, how Moose dealt with it, and what we can all learn from him.
It was Monday, June 30th. I needed a barbecue – quickly – because dozens of people had been invited to my home for a BBQ on the upcoming Saturday. Tuesday, July 1st, is a holiday (Happy Canada Day!). I wanted the BBQ assembled and delivered by Friday so that I can be prepared for Saturday’s get-together. That means there was really only 2 business days with which Home Depot could work. Home Depot only has a BBQ assembler in the store twice a week. I arrived at Home Depot with my mother less than an hour before closing time on Monday…
How Moose dealt with it:
When I threw the curve ball at Moose that I needed the BBQ assembled and delivered in 4 days, including a holiday, he cautiously said that he wouldn’t be able to guarantee that. I was preparing with my reply for this sort of answer: “that’s unacceptable, so how can we make this happen”, but Moose surprised me. He jumped directly into “make it happen” mode without prompting from me. First, he made a phone call to find out when the assembler would be in. Good news – he was in on Thursday! Next, he checked how many BBQs the assembler already had to work on based on previous orders. Bad news – he already had 11 others ordered, and he generally did 10 per day. It was not likely that my BBQ could be assembled and delivered for Friday.
I prepared myself again for some sort of “sorry, I can’t guarantee that timeline.” Once again, Moose continued to surprise me with his genuine focus on meeting my needs. He looked up other stores inventories, called another local store, and proceeded to arrange things through them. This wasn’t a walk in the park, either. At one point, it sounded like he was actually training the customer service rep there how to order and coordinate a BBQ assembly and delivery. At another point, they were too busy to continue the conversation so he had to call them back. He gave us a sample invoice so that we could see what we would be charged and took our number so that we could leave and continue our evening (did I mention we only got to the store less than an hour before closing) and he promised to take care of it.
Moose did take care of things. Half an hour later, while I was relaxing back at home with a glass of wine, he was still working on my problem. He called to confirm that the BBQ had been ordered through the other store and would be delivered Friday. He gave me their number, my order number, and suggested I call Friday morning to find out an estimated time of arrival for the delivery.
What made this whole interaction most awesome was that Moose did all of this with a smile. He was calm, never seemed put out at all, didn’t make us feel unreasonable, and also dealt with a bunch of other questions the entire time. He’s also the Front End manager at this store, so employees were coming to him constantly with questions and requests. He met all of them good-naturedly as well.
So what lessons can you take away from Moose?
1. Ensure your team members realize that their job is more than following the steps of service or technical aspects of their role. If Moose had followed procedure, I’m sure the steps would not have included going out of his way to arrange an order through another store – his store will actually not make any money from this sale, but they have gained a raving fan and customer for life.
2. When you can’t do what a customer requests, imagine that “no” was not an answer. Instead, find out what the customer needs and then how you can make it happen – even if it’s not a traditional practice. Train them to “make it happen”. Give your employees unique scenarios and build their problem solving skills in order to meet customer needs.
3. Your customer’s problem is your problem. Moose completely took ownership of my issue. It was absolutely not his fault that I waited until Monday night to order a BBQ that I needed by Friday. He took on the situation as though it was his problem to solve. I relaxed once I saw that he was looking into all options. When you can take the problem off your customer’s shoulders, their relief will translate into appreciation and loyalty.
4. Do it with a smile. Moose is emotionally intelligent. He demonstrated empathy and managed our emotions effectively. He was assertive yet optimistic and adaptable. His easy going communication style calmed me (and my mother) down, and this is not always easy. Moose has the “service gene”. He genuinely cares about his customers’ needs and those of his team.
5. Hire people like Moose. During the interview process, ask for examples of employees dealing with a customer with an impossible request. Do they give examples of following policy or of being innovative in solving the customer’s problem? Do they share feelings of frustration or of genuine desire to help? This gene is difficult to train. Finding gems like Moose is best.
6. Recognize and reward service superstars. Judging from Home Depots tweet to me, it sounds like Moose will be recognized. If you don’t do your best to engage these awesome employees, they will be snatched up quickly. Find out what they want most – is it career growth? Training and development? Opportunities to be involved in special projects? Not all rewards are monetary – and you’ll find that for your top performers and service-gene employees, they often aren’t.
What to do now:
If you’re looking for problem solving, awesome customer experience, go and visit Moose at Home Depot on Dundas St in Oakville.
If you want to hire people with the service gene, ask me about our Hiring for Awesome Attitude workshops and tools.
If you want to develop Emotional Intelligence in your leaders, contact me about the TEIQue assessment and coaching I provide.