Gutter Balls, Strikes, and Customer Service

Like with many companies, the holiday season is one of our favorite times of the year.  Our end of year meeting is coupled with our Christmas party every year. Half of the event is more serious, as we review everything from sales figures to facility safety reviews. The second half is a relaxed, informal time to be able to have some fun with our co-workers away from the business. The employees can bring a guest along, which makes for an even better time – as they say, “the more the merrier.” This is refreshing in so many ways, as we can really get to know one another better without the worries and stress of the work environment.

In December of 2010 we held our party at a local bowling alley. We reserved several lanes and a private room where we could hold the formal part of the meeting and also have a buffet for our employees. It was a nice, very informal setup, and everyone was really enjoying themselves. We were wrapping up our presentation on sales numbers and our extended goals for the upcoming year when Renée’s  phone rang. She looked at me and whispered the name of a Doctor that had very recently called and was in a jam. He needed equipment delivered by the end of the year for his opening, and another well known company like ours had let him down.  He needed surgery tables, among other equipment, and needed it all fast. He was turning to us for help, albeit in a very short time frame.

We quickly wrapped the meeting and tried to find a quiet place from which to call the Doctor back. We were in a Bowling Alley. Quiet is not exactly one of the attributes of a bowling alley.  Renée and I decided that we’d have to call him back from outside.  It was cold and windy outside, yet another set of problems. Renee had a stereo headphone with a mic on it, so she plugged that into her phone and we ran over beside a truck in the parking lot to avoid the wind. This wasn’t an ordinary truck for most people; this truck had huge tires and was jacked up.  It was just a shade before being painted blue and having “BIGFOOT” plastered on the side. We crouched down a bit behind one of the huge tires and called the Doctor back. Twenty minutes later we had received a purchase order and were on our way to fulfilling his needs and tight time requirements.

The Christmas party was a whole lot more fun for us afterwards, as not only had we sold equipment on a day when we really don’t expect to sell any, but because we knew we had provided excellent customer service and support to a facility in need, even if it was during a “fun” day for our company. It is important to realize that for a company to live up to its promises, it must provide the same level of service and support no matter what day it is. The Doctor that needed the equipment was not at a Christmas party, he was stressing about being able to open on time. After our call, he assuredly had a better day, too.  Some companies throw gutter balls when things aren’t convenient or easy for them. We try to throw a strike every time for our customers, no matter what the situation…even at the company Christmas party.

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