I was truly inspired by this story from Safelite AutoGlass.
A Safelite technician in Portland, OR was informed that he was going to have a deaf customer on his route the next day. In order to keep the company’s commitment to explaining the installation process, the post-installation safety precautions, and the Safelite warranty to all customers, the technician went out of his way in a very creative fashion. When he got home at night, he called a good friend of his in Vancouver, Washington—just over the river from Portland—who knew sign language. The technician went to his friend’s house and spoke through the installation process and all of the other details. He video recorded his friend signing the entire presentation and then showed it to the deaf customer the next day.
Barry Schwartz, the author of the seminal book The Paradox of Choice, has a great TED talk called Our Loss of Wisdom. In it he discusses what Aritstotle called “practical wisdom,” the combination of moral will and moral skill. The Safelite technician demonstrated practical wisdom by combining the moral will to do what was right for the deaf customer and the moral skill to figure out what “doing right” means.
This type of behavior doesn’t happen enough; our research shows that only 30% of U.S. employees demonstrate practical wisdom. But it’s no surprise that it occurred at Safelite, one of Temkin Group’s 2012 Customer Experience Excellence Award winners. Safelite’s CEO Tom Feeney set a goal in 2008 of doubling the company’s business in four years by 1) putting Safelite’s people first by focusing on talent development and employee engagement and 2) going above and beyond to delight every customer. The strategy succeeded.
The bottom line: Create an environment that fosters practical wisdom.
Epilogue: The technician I discuss above, whose name is Kanyon, left a comment on this post. He was responding to a question about why he recorded the video instead of just writing it all down. Here’s a portion of his response (look at the comments to see it all):
“I could have written everything thing down for my customer. Have you ever seen someone after you spoke to them in their native language? If not try it sometime just learn a little bit that person becomes more relax their walls drop a little and they feel more comfortable. Jeff for me customer service is more then doing a good job. Customer service for me is allowing that person to feel comfortable and safe. Then they can trust me and when I am working on their car/truck they want to trust me.”