The Customer as Valentine: A Generous Heart

customer loveAllowances were not something my dad believed taught kids a strong work ethic.  So, I had to work for all my spending money.  Living in a rural area, there were not a lot of paying chores for kids…except for baby-sitting and lawn mowing.   My sister baby-sat; I mowed yards.  I got a dollar for a regular-sized yard and two dollars for a large yard.  And, my grandmother had a two-dollar yard!

One summer we had a drought where I lived.  It did not impact the babysitting for my sister but it hit my paying chores in a large way.  Yards did not grow much so I was looking at pretty bleak school year in terms of spending money.  Towards the end of that summer, my grandmother called and wanted me to come mow her yard.  I was super thrilled!

As always, I mowed her large yard and met her on her back porch to get my two dollars.  But, I got a big surprise.  She handed me five-dollar bill and said the most wonderful words I had ever heard…”Keep the change!”  And, it did change my relationship with my grandmother.  A relationship I kept until she died in her mid-eighties.

One by-product of innovative service is not just keeping a customer, but changing their feelings about the organization from pleased to thrilled; from passively retained to an active advocate.  One powerful route to your customer’s heart is a generous attitude–the type that leaves customer surprised, not just happy. Now, few organizations can provide customers a 150% tip like my grandmother.  While the economics of a ten-year old’s piggy bank are important, it was her abundant generosity that created the warm memory of our relationship.

Last week I purchased a sandwich and drink at a McDonald’s.  The charge came to $4.01.  After I handed the server $5.00 (I did not have a penny), she reached in her pocket, took out a penny, put it in the cash drawer and handed me back a dollar!  I was totally surprised.  That kind of abundance might normally happen at a Ritz-Carlton hotel or a Nordstrom, but this was a high school kid at a Mickey D’s!

Unexpected generosity is infectious. Give your customers more than they expect and more than you expect will come back to you!

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