My first post-high school employment was with Howard’s TV Repair. Howard had a pretty good understanding of human psychology. He insisted that we clean the outside of each television set repaired in his shop before it was returned to the owner.

It never took long. Less than 60 seconds to Windex the front of the picture tube, and maybe another three minutes to wipe the dust and fingerprints off the rest of the set. (It always amazes me, even today, how much dust, cigarette smoke, and other schmutz accumulates on the ‘tube and dims the picture).

When we’d fire it up for the owner, the usual comment was, “Wow. That looks good!

Why am I thinking of Howard today?

Because I just received a postcard from the shop that did extensive repairs on my truck. It was a nice “thank you,” and it arrived within 48 hours of the work being completed.

I paid $437 for repairs to the steering linkage. (Well, more correctly, $420 for the steering linkage, and $17 to replace the windshield wipers).

I picked the truck up at 5:30 pm, and drove it home into the setting sun, squinting through the dirty windshield. Now, granted, it was that dirty when I delivered the truck at 7:00 that morning. But, still, they paid enough attention to note the rubber was shot on my blades, and completely missed the filthy glass on which that rubber sat.

To the best of my knowledge, Howard never repaired any vehicle other than his own. However, I have no doubt that under his supervision no vehicle would be returned before the mats were vacuumed, the dash wiped down, and the glass cleaned.

And here I sit looking at this postcard.

The shop did good work. I’m not upset with their price. And yet, it would have been so easy for them to delight me with four minutes of extra, unexpected attention to the little things.

I don’t know what you sell, or what services you offer, but isn’t there some nicety you could do for your customers to surprise and delight them? I’m not talking about discount coupons or loyalty cards or even a free gift with purchase. I’m talking about just doing something nice. Something that could generate incredible word of mouth.

Something like:

  • The complementary hand sanitizer at the checkout of Mi Tierra Mexican Restaurant in Southaven, Mississippi.
  • Behive Music in Fargo loaning an amplifier for that night’s gig to a guitarist who’s amp was in their shop.
  • As one of California’s major fires worked it’s way up the Cajone Pass, the daily phone call to out-of-town owners of rental homes managed by Blue Star Properties of Victorville. (With evacuation on everyone’s mind, Ben Lamson’s crew minimized every owner’s worry by providing the latest information, and showing they were on top of the situation).
  • The Cincinnati O’Charlie’s Restaurant waitress who, slammed by the after church crowd, still noticed a lady with a walker coming around the side of the building, opened the side door, and found her a seat immediately.
  • The cleansing wipes provided by the Kroger Grocery in Portsmouth, Ohio so that shoppers can wipe down the handles of the shopping carts.
  • The taxi owned by El Torrito Restaurant in Evansville, Illinois, painted with their logo, that the restaurant parked by the street during the day and used in the evening to take home customers home who had spent too much time in the cantina.
  • The U.S. Postal Service repackaging my magazine when the cover tore, in order that it arrive without additional damage.
  • The complementary coffee served to those customers waiting to be seated at the Bob Evans Restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina.
  • The customer service representative of Chase Bank in Huntington, West Virginia who called the new customer with the name of a blues band looking for a bass player that his new-to-town customer had asked about the day before.

Do you have any personal examples of delightful customer service?

If you don’t mind, hit the “comment” button and tell us what the business did for you, how it made you feel, and roughly how many people you told about it.