Monday, March 5, 2012

Warm-hearted Impulses and Righting Wrongs

Have you ever felt nudged to do something kind but out of the ordinary for someone? Did you act on it?

Everyone has heard of random acts of kindness, but I prefer thinking of them as warm-hearted impulses. The difference isn't significant, but recognizing that these inclinations come from the heart and need to be acted on impulsively changes their meaning. Rather than deliberating, just react. Do that warm-hearted act you're feeling urged toward.

At Roam Atlanta, where I head up talent and culture development, we've been discussing how warm-hearted impulses play out in business. 

Many are familiar with the stories of Nordstrom's customer service. Their employees' only rule is to use good judgment. Customer satisfaction is Nordstrom's primary focus, so they embed this into their culture. Take these examples:
  • A Nordstrom employee complimentary gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy's
  • A Nordstrom employee drove a customer to the airport
  • A Nordstrom employee picked up a customer's dry cleaning and dropped it off at the customer's house
And these employees were commended for their out of the ordinary actions. They acted on warm-hearted impulses and won loyal customers as a result.

Contrast this to the experience I just had at Macy's. (And I realize this is just one Macy's not necessarily the whole chain.)

I went to pick up a ring I had resized, which they originally told me it would take two weeks and be free of charge since the ring was purchased with a service plan. One month later I am told that my ring is ready and will cost $35. So I arrive at Macy's (not close to anywhere I frequent by the way) already a bit perturbed.

I come armed with my receipt for proof of the service plan, but before I can go any further, I realize the ring is still too big. I kindly ask the employee if she can expedite the process since it was Macy's resizing service who made the error. The answer was no. The employee then wanted to keep my receipt with the proof of purchase. I asked if instead she could photocopy it, allowing me to keep a copy. (I could just foresee not having my receipt and never getting my ring back.) The answer: again no because she isn't allowed to leave her station.

I'll spare you the rest of the details but suffice it to say that I don't know when the ring will be ready, and I am prepared to come armed with my receipt the second time. On the way home I was reflecting that at a place that valued customer service, the employee would have called someone else over to make a photocopy (but then again, they wouldn't have been under lock and key in the first place) and had the manager assist in reconciling the mistake.

The main takeaway for you is that whatever your area of business, mistakes can be your greatest opportunity to display warm-hearted impulses. Go above and beyond just righting a wrong. Impulsively act with a servant's heart.

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