Kind Words Can be Short, but their Echoes are truly Endless.
I have always been a big believer in filling out comment cards for customer service – good and bad. It is a practice I have done for many years, for both types of service, sadly when you ask for comment cards most places assume you are going to complain.
So, I have seen lots of happy reactions whenever I answer the automatic question of, “Oh is there a problem?“, with a reply of, “No, I had a great experience and wanted the manager to know“.
I always feel it is proof that not enough people let others know when they are happy with their service. Sad, but true.
Today’s article is a story of what happened when I met someone a year AFTER I had sent in such a comment via a letter, and their reaction to meeting me. I also had the rare opportunity to learn what effect my letter of good service had on her.
To give you a little background on this I am going to share the letter I wrote last year. It was in June of 2016 and I sent this the day after our customer service experience. In it, you will learn a couple things about me and my family, things you may not know about, but something I am happy to share. Then I will tell you what happened when I met the clerk I wrote the letter about. This is true proof that kind words matter. (I know it’s a long article and a lot of words, but it is worth the read, I promise.)
Subject line: Kudos to one of your Bootlegger Staff in Halifax, NS, for a phenomenal experience
I wanted to pass along to your Head Office and Executive Officers, compliments on the most exceptional experience I have ever had shopping, and I have been shopping for many, many years.
This happened yesterday at your Bootlegger store in Halifax Shopping Centre in Nova Scotia, and the clerk who helped us was named Maggie.
To understand why this experience was so phenomenal, you need to know that our family has been going through a very rough time the past few years and recently our 15-year-old daughter, who has anxiety and depression, came out as transgender. We are 100% supportive of him, as he has already made drastic shifts in mood and personality since telling us. Life is getting better! Shopping had been hard enough before, but now as we move to getting fitted into a wardrobe of boy clothes, it has been even more of a struggle. There is a lot of nervousness and uncertainty about going into the stores, but also into the boy sections too.
Yesterday we were on a quest to get jeans. Anxiety reared its ugly head and was making it hard to even walk in the stores. We finally managed to get into your Bootlegger store and started looking for jeans. Maggie was instantly there to help us find the right pair and the right fit. She was just fabulous. Understanding instantly our hesitation and nerves, she was not pushy or bold in any way with her assistance. She gave her opinions on the fit, and even found ones that fit better and were ideal. In fact, she was so great she had my son laughing at some jokes about clothes and the entire experience was such a shift from anything we have had before.
Whether you understand transgender people or not, the big thing to note is pronouns and using the right words of he or she. This has been a challenge for us and we slip up, mixing the pronouns. As I was talking to Maggie about fits for jeans and sizes, I know I slipped up and said ‘she’ and then corrected myself to ‘he’ and we were also looking at both girl jeans and boy ones trying to find a good fit. I am certain that these clues helped Maggie understand even more so the behind the scenes issues we were experiencing. At this point she became even more helpful – not that I thought that was even possible – but she did it. She gave me a lot of tips on what fits of jeans were the best we saw from the trying on we did, when certain clothes come out and to know what to look for when buying jeans. Her help was so invaluable, but more importantly, the compassion she showed was priceless. We never directly talked about it at all, but in my heart, I knew she truly understood the situation and I cannot tell you how that made me feel. Full acceptance and a 100% (even more!) genuine desire to help her customers have the most positive experience possible as they struggled in her store.
She had my son laughing and smiling at the checkout. This situation is one that has rarely been experienced in the past few years and to leave a store without being in a panicked state of heightened anxiety was a dream. This happened because of your employee Maggie.
As we move into this new world with our son, a sometimes scary one filled with fear and anxiety of acceptance, Maggie proved to us that the world is indeed a great place and that the people in it are why. She has given your Bootlegger store loyal customers for life and we wanted to share our thanks and gratitude for this over the top experience we had.
I am not sure how you hand out kudos and thank-yous to your staff for exceptional service, but Maggie is deserving of something more than a simple thank you from our family. I hope you can pass along this note to her, so she fully understands how she impacted our lives yesterday and left an imprint that will remain forever. Please thank her from the bottom of our hearts.
Our family, then and now…
The Response from my Letter:
Now, sometimes when I write letters like this I get replies, sometimes I do not. In this case, I wrote the letter to their head office – after searching online for some information about them – and was specific that I wanted the head of the company to read this one. I wasn’t sure how that would go, but go it did. I got a call from the company’s Secretary of the Board, letting me know the President of Bootlegger had been given the info and thanking me for the letter. Then a few days later I got a phone call from the President herself.
I will say this is the highest reach one of my ‘great service letters’ ever got. And it was nice to know that people do listen. I felt confident that “Maggie” would hear about this and know how much her service was appreciated.
What Happened this Weekend:
So, this past weekend I was shopping because I needed some new jeans and t-shirts. My first choice, as it has been for over a year, was to go to this same Bootlegger store, which is not the closest one to me. Who should happen to be helping me but Maggie, the clerk who I had written this letter about.
At the checkout she asked for my Rewards card, which I never have and always have the people look up. As she did that, she saw my name and then looked at me and smiled. I knew then, she knew who I was, and smiled back.
I said, “I’m not sure you remember me, but you helped me and my son out last year.”
Her reply was, “I knew you looked familiar and now I know why. You wrote the best letter ever. I got a phone call from our company President because of you.”
I let her know how happy I was she was acknowledged and commented how she had no idea how much her kindness meant that day.
Then she asked how my son was doing. I gave her a few highlights on how he has changed so much in the past year, he gets out, is active and even has become an advocate for transgender youth. I let her know he was on the Youth Board for a local LGBTQ++ nonprofit group called the Youth Project and that he helped out with the local Pride events as well. That is in addition to the other various projects he is doing.
She was so pleased to hear all this and got a little emotional about the update, which got me teary-eyed updating her. She also told me how much that letter meant to her, knowing that she had an effect on two people like that. Acceptance like she showed us means everything!
You know, people make fun of me and my “good comment“ letters sometimes, but this is what words can do when you take the time to acknowledge others.
She shared how they have my letter taped on the back wall in the store and when they bring on new staff they are shown this letter and told, “This is the kind of service we all should aspire to.” Imagine having your name on a letter like this shared to all the new people coming to work in the store. I think that meant a lot to her as well.
Kind words do matter and no matter how long or short, their echoes can be truly endless.
I really learned this lesson this week. I truly encourage everyone to take the time to thank people whenever you have the opportunity. You have no idea what could happen to them as a result.
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