Customer service can come in the most unexpected places, even cemeteries.
A couple of years ago my husband and I took a road trip to Charleston and Savannah. It was our last hurrah before I became pregnant with my son and we were so excited! We had one concern though, our transportation. My husband’s car didn’t have a working air conditioner and my car was on it’s last leg (clearly we’re cheapskates!). Since it was summer time, a car without a working air conditioner in the steamy hot South didn’t sound like a great plan. So, we took mine.
The car was fine until, the last day. On a particularly steamy morning, we started the car and it stuttered quite a bit. Uh oh. But after a few tries, it was fine. So, off to the last activity of the trip, visiting the famous Savannah cemetery. I was stoked! My husband, not so much. But as we began to coast through the tiny, meandering road I insisted that we park. My husband begrudgingly obliged. After admiring the fascinating tombstones, we returned to our car. And much to our horror, the car didn’t start. Try after try, nothing. We were officially broken down, in a cemetery.
Although it was thankfully daylight, being stuck in a cemetery wasn’t exactly a comforting feeling. And knowing that we still had to drive 13 hours back, somehow, to our home in St. Louis was terrifying. What in the world are we going to do?! Rent a car and leave this one here? Buy a new car now? What if this repair costs thousands, even more than the car is worth?
I decided to stay calm, and think positive. What can we do? We called the owner of the bed and breakfast we were staying at to see if he knew of any close car repair shops. No answer. We called around to every nearby Honda dealer to see if they could take us in at that very moment. We found one. Now, call AAA.
As we waited and waited, we began to worry, sweat, and worry some more. But, again, tried our best to stay focused on the things working out. And they did, in the most unexpected way. As our AAA driver approached, he apologized for his lateness. The cemetery was extremely large, and there were no road signs. He had no way to find us. Until he ran across a friendly cemetery worker who had driven by us earlier. When he saw the tow truck, he flagged the driver down to tell him where we were and that he would show him the way. Once they arrived, together they worked together diligently to maneuver our car onto the tow truck, and around the tiny roadways.
Once in the tow truck, we chatted about what’d happened with the driver. He told us he was happy to help us out and brighten our day in any way he could. He knew as a tow truck driver he met people in a very tough time and it was his responsibility to make us laugh. And that he did. As he continued, he shared the dire circumstances that he had recently lived through, moving to a new city to care for his mother and then losing her, living in his car with his wife, and then living in a trailer in the driveway of a friend. But, he said life was good and he was thankful.
Once we arrived at the Honda dealership, inspirational customer service struck again. They knew we were in a bind, and assured us they were going to do everything they could to complete the work in just a couple of hours. And, after asking for restaurants within walking distance, they offered to drive us to a restaurant and wait while we ate. Um, what? Are you serious?! Yep, they were serious. Chipotle never tasted so good!
And if that wasn’t enough, there was one more offer coming. The owner of the bed and breakfast called us back to ask if we were ok, and to offer his car to us for as long as we needed. Um, again, what? We can drive your car, free of charge, until we get ours back? Yep! That’s exactly what he was offering.
As our car’s repair was finishing up, my husband and I thought back on our day. What started out as a disaster, ended up being one of our most incredible memories of the entire trip. From our first interaction to our last, everyone was incredibly committed to serving us, at the highest level possible. People repeatedly went out of their way, sacrificing their own time, possessions, and usual duties, to help us. And it wasn’t because the company mandated it, but because they were truly dedicated to serving. Each person we met along the way did whatever they could to help out a stranded person.
It was an inspiration that I reflect on still today. A lesson on how we can all strive to truly be dedicated to easing the customer’s burden, especially in times of stress. And that bringing a little joy and humor to their lives can be a memory for a lifetime.