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Great businesses anticipate

 20 November 2017     Donald Cooper 

Many companies measure their service excellence by how well and how quickly they respond to their customers. How we respond matters. But the real customer service magic comes when we anticipate our customers’ needs and proactively do what needs to be done.

One day, early on in the life of our (eventually) award-winning Alive & Well fashion store, I was the only employee on duty and there was only one customer in the store. She was in a change room and her two-year-old son was running around like a madman. Suddenly, I smelled a full diaper – and so did his mother. She came running out of the change room, looked at the poop running down her son’s leg, threw up her hands and said: “I don’t have any diapers with me; I’ll have to take him home.”

“Take him home,” I said, “You can’t even pick him up.”

“But what will I do?” she asked.

“Have you ever worked in a retail store?” I enquired.

“Yes, years ago,” was her reply.

“Well, you’re working in one again,” I informed her. “You’re in charge – I’ll be right back with diapers.”

I jumped in my car, drove down to the corner drug store, bought three sizes of diapers, wipes and cream and was back in the store in eight minutes. While I was gone three customers came in and my new stand-in sales lady was doing just fine. She changed her son’s diaper, continued shopping and over the next few weeks must have told 100 women about the crazy store owner who left her in charge and ran out to buy diapers.

We were immediately mobbed by young mothers who came in to shop and to ask if we really had free diapers. From that day on we had change tables, diapers, wipes and cream in our customer washroom. Why? Because if it happened once, it will happen again and so we got ready.

Good businesses respond but great businesses anticipate. We sold clothing but we became ‘famous’ for diapers.

The ‘small stuff’ does make all the difference. Have you mastered the art of doing a lot of simple things really, really well? How can you take small, everyday tasks like answering the phone, serving customers, quoting on jobs, order entry, shipping, customer follow-up, or helping customers read your menu and turn those tasks into extraordinary acts that delight customers and frustrate your competitors?

Something to think about
Best job title I’ve heard in a long time. A little while back I had a wonderful conversation with the head of human resources for one of my new clients. But her title is not the usual Director of HR. Her title is Director of Talent and Culture. That is a brilliant recognition of the fact that the real battle in any business today is the battle for talent. It’s our culture that attracts the top talent we need and it’s our culture that engages, challenges, rewards and inspires those talented people to produce and to stay.

TempurPedic Canada
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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