No problem at all

As you know we like to feature great customer experience stories, here’s a good one.

We’re in the latter stages of a big building project at home. By necessity things have been intrusive and disruptive, but we’re now doing things like choosing bathroom fittings, and tiles.

A visit to a tile showroom in Hackbridge called All Tile Ceramics, proved to be an interesting experience. We looked at loads of tiles. We asked loads of questions. It was clear that we were on a tight budget. Time was invested in us; our questions were answered politely and professionally without once making us feel like we didn’t know what we were talking about (which we didn’t). Samples were provided for us to take away and look at in context.

All of this was topped off with “No problem at all”. It didn’t sound forced, didn’t sound fake. It sounded like what we were asking for was exactly that, no problem at all. Unsurprisingly we didn’t go anywhere else; we bought what we needed from All Tile Ceramics. They took our order politely, set realistic expectations around delivery times (which they subsequently exceeded). They even took my money in a friendly way. And they helped Carole load the tiles into the car on collection. No problem at all.

That’s almost the end of the story…

Turns out my measuring skills aren’t as good as I thought they were. Yesterday I called the shop and enquired about lead times. I was told if I ordered the following day, the extra tiles we needed would be there within a couple of days. Today I called the tile shop again and ordered another box of tiles. Three hours later as I was preparing to go out, I got a phone call. “We’ve been to the warehouse, your tiles are here for you to collect when you want them.” OK, so the timing of their phone call was a coincidence but hey, that’s quick service. I don’t doubt the warehouse run may have included other errands but it felt to me like this was being done just for me. Personal service – one of the key elements that our readers say makes a great customer experience.

I collected and paid for the tiles later in the day. I thanked the guys at All Tile Ceramics for their friendly, quick service. “No problem at all.”

Good work, great experience.

Even the CEO can take it personally

Since blogging about the science of motivation, my interest in removing the confusion, lack of trust and bad behaviour caused by financial incentives within organisations has been renewed. It seems I’m not alone. The Science of Motivation article has been one of the most read on this site in recent weeks, and I’ve discovered and enjoyed reading lots of creative action ideas by Derek Irvine on this subject.

We often hear criticism aimed at the very top of the organisation. They set the agenda, the tone, if only they would behave, set the right example, do the right thing etc., then everything would be alright. It’s easy to point the finger of blame at a somewhat distant figure. I was heartened to read an interesting study from the Academy of Management which indicates that a CEO with a strong sense of connectedness to the organisation, is much more likely to behave in a sustainable, inclusive way, than one who is not. Here’s a short extract from the Academy of Management article:

“One might expect that a CEO who identifies strongly with his or her firm will see nothing wrong with using the company resources for personal use, but our findings suggest the opposite to be the case,” comments James Westphal of the University of Michigan, a co-author of the study with Steven Boivie of the University of Arizona, Donald A. Lange of Arizona State University, and Michael McDonald of the University of Central Florida. “What we found instead,” he adds, “is that such executives tend to shun lavish perquisites that shareholders and the public resent, perks which, in fact, have been shown to be associated with significant underperformance of company stock.”

CEOs with strong company identification also tend to avoid corporate strategies that are likely to be at odds with the interest of shareholders. For example, they are less than half as likely as CEOs with weak company identification to increase their companies’ level of unrelated diversification, a strategy that the study characterizes as “a form of corporate empire-building…associated with lower financial performance, lower stock prices, and greater institutional pressure to divest.”

I encourage you to read more about this, it has certainly helped me pause to reflect and appreciate that there are leaders out there who get it. Now how do we strengthen the currently weak connection between most CEOs and their front line staff and build on this desire to do the right things for the right reasons? Based on the popularity of another article on our site, Visible Leadership is Great, Can We Have Some Please? I suggest a lot of CEOs could do worse than start to walk the floor, have a few honest, sincere conversations with colleagues and show through their behaviour that we’re all in the business of great customer service together.


Delighted customers make the Wow Awards happen. Delighted customers and Derek Williams working with his great team too. Short and simple. The Wow! awards ceremony took place yesterdayand I hope you will take a few minutes to look at the Wow Awards web site. Enjoy the pics, and the videos, some of which are inspiring and humbling.