While in the airport, the man at the shoe shine stand started a conversation and wanted to know if I needed my shoes shined. What else was I going to do for four hours? He started the process and began visiting with me. He was an interesting man that started out in Texas but moved to Tulsa and had been working at the shoe shine stand for 20 years. It was a great conversation and we shared stories about where we had both come from, our families, and life in general – his name was “Boston”. He asked if I had read a particular book that he had read recently, I told him no, but upon his recommendation I would definitely find it.
Finishing his job of making my shoes better than when they were when new, I asked him the cost, and he said $5! I couldn’t believe only $5 after he had worked 20-30 minutes to make them look so good – he confirmed that he always charged $5 regardless of the time it took him. I gave him a $20 dollar bill – for the shoe shine as well as the conversation. He wanted to give me change, but I insisted he keep it – he hadn’t had a customer in awhile.
My flight was about to begin boarding, now 3 hours after my shoe shine, and I see Boston roaming down the corridor assuming he was looking for another customer. Surprisingly, he came right toward me and handed me a sack, telling me it was a “gift”. Boston had spent the extra $15 I had given him and bought me the book he had described to me!
Boston had the ultimate view of customer service- he turned a chance encounter and a very frantic, stressful day for me – into a memorable experience that I won’t forget! What an impact we would have if we all had this same view of our customers! Maybe we should all have a little of “Boston” in the way we provide service every day!
Katy Wild is Executive Vice President Customer Relations for Freeman. Freeman is a winner of the International Service Excellence Award from the Customer Service Institute of America.