We were back in Ohio unexpectedly for several weeks this winter. My wife, Tricia’s, 91 year old mother was placed in Hospice care and passed away at home. We were able to drive in from Chicago and spent a lot of time with all of Tricia’s family, which was good, even under the sad circumstances,

While in Ohio, we experienced two exceptional examples of what I call Real Customer Service. Nowadays most of us complain about how impersonal and regimented customer service has become. You used to talk directly to people in a store or service business. Now you are forced to deal with a Customer Call Center which can be half way around the world. Often these Call Centers do a very good job but sometimes they do not. Then you need to recall knowing that you will never get the same person again and you will have to start your story all over from the beginning. Sometimes this can take three or more calls. And, of course, with each call, you need to deal, once again, with the firm’s automated answering service that really does not seem to want you to find their living Customer Service people!

Sorry for that personal outburst, usually I limit those to stories about Human Resources or outside Advisors. Back to Ohio.

We always stay at a Hampton Hotel (owned by Hilton) in Fairlawn, Ohio, close to where all the relatives live. Over the years, we have gotten to know a number of the people who work there in our quarterly visits. This time, all the employees quickly figured out this was not our normal visit, but was much more difficult. We kept extending our stay, coming and going at odd hours and sleeping at strange times, etc. When Tricia’s mother passed away, the Hampton staff did the following: 1. all the employees including the housekeepers signed a condolence card 2. they bought a small bouquet of flowers and a teddy bear and 3. a young intern hand drew a beautiful rose. Exceptional, and very unexpected, but most appreciated. I wrote a thank you letter to the Hampton Manager.

Because we kept extending our Ohio stay, we ran out of things. Clothes were sent to the Hampton cleaners. And I had only packed ten days worth of my daily medicines and we were still not sure how long we would stay. First, I call my drug insurance company’s Call Center and am told by the automated person that all the computers are down. Thanks. Caremark/CVS is my drug provider, so I decide to be bold and drive to a nearby CVS drug store to see what I can do. My expectations are low. A young pharmacist takes an interest in my story, and for the next 24 hours deals with the Caremark computer and my own doctor to get me a month’s supply of my medicines. And all the time she kept me updated me by phone as to the status. Again exceptional, unexpected and most appreciated. I wrote a thank you to the CVS drugstore manager.

Now sometimes, as I said, the Call Center person does a great job. But part of the problem is the detached, impersonal nature of much which claims to be Customer Service. Our instantly connected internet world will never return to the days of one on one, face to face Customer Service. But when you get it and it works so well, you realize what Real Customer Service should be like.

The Business Zoo update. With the help of our computer expert, friend Heidi, we are working on formatting the completed and edited book for both Amazon paperback and Kindle eBooks. So hopefully the book will be available shortly. Thanks to all the friends and readers who keep asking about the status.