Yes you can! Doing the right thing for customers does not have to be difficult

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For the last three years, anyone who has followed my writing exploits will be fully aware that I am keen on sharing a story or two…or three…or four!! I have always believed that a good story can bring to life any theory and when it comes to the world of Customer Experience, the power of influence a good story can have is undeniable.

The stories that are often the most powerful are those that prove the art of what is actually possible. They are sometimes an inspiration to those who are looking for evidence that ‘doing the right thing’ for customers is something that can have as significant effect on an organisation as the numbers on a spreadsheet going in the right direction.

Last year I shared two such stories – one that demonstrated an unbelievable level of customer empathy and connectedness from four McDonalds workers in the UK and one about the amazing magic of Disney. Both stories show that if you WANT to do the right thing for your customers…..you can. The stories also demonstrate how employees that are ALLOWED to do the right things for customers WILL!



A common thread between the stories is that what the employees of these organisations actually did is not difficult. I have always believed that doing the right things for customers is actually one of the easiest things in the world. If a company enables the words ‘yes I can’ to be embedded in the psyche of its employees, then more can/could/should be generating similar stories.

A couple of weeks ago, another story was brought to my attention. It epitomises exactly what I am describing. The story is one of caring and kindness – a story that clearly demonstrates an empathetic connection between a company employee and a customer. What the employee did is so simple, it may leave you wondering why it went viral – it is because what this employee did is so rarely seen in society today that it appears to be unusual.

Eighteen year old Christian Trousedale is a part time stock assistant for an Aldi supermarket in the North West of England. Christian spotted a 95 year old customer about to leave the store with a bag full of shopping on a very windy day. Asking his boss if he could help the customer get home, Christian was given ‘permission to do so’ – his boss thought it ‘would be the right thing to do’. So, holding the pensioner’s hand, Christian walked him all the way home, chatting with him along the way.

Christian’s action was noticed by a passer-by who took a photo of Christian and the 95 year old and posted it on Facebook. The picture has been shared thousands of times all over the world. Christian is slightly bemused by the whole thing – he thinks that what he did is just ‘normal’! Christian is absolutely right, but how many people would not have even thought to ask if they could do the same thing? How many bosses would have said that it might be the ‘right thing to do’, but that they were ‘too busy’ to do it? You can read the full story here.



Any company can do the right thing for customers if they want to. By instilling a culture of ‘yes you can’, rather than ‘we don’t do that’, will have the effect of unleashing the emotional bond that can be generated between people – customers and employees. To do that you may have to break a few rules now and then – but breaking rules to do what is right has to be better than sticking to the rules and doing what is wrong.

I take my hat off to Christian – and to Disney and to the four lovely McDonalds ladies who turned up again at my Grandma’s 101st birthday on the 1st May with a lovely birthday cake. Keep on doing what is right – keep on doing what is normal. I can only hope that the more people who read your stories, the more people will be inspired to do what is normal too!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Ian,

    Agreed: doing right by customers does not have to be difficult. And some folks, in some instances, treat customers as fellow human beings. I note that you congratulated the McDonalds employees on your Gran’s 100th birthday. The question I find interesting is this one: did they do this on their time or on company time. I am willing to bet that the employees did it on their time – their actions reflect upon them as people rather than McDonalds.

    Where I find myself in profound disagreement with you is on the organisational capacity to do right by the customer: to care for the customer – as you show in your stories. Why? Because, if find that organisations are designed-operated for consistency, predictability, efficiency and control. That means that organisations, by design, are care-less settings, where flexibility, responsiveness, genuine humanity is not welcome. In fact everything, is done to drive this out. Why? Because this is variation. And variation ruins the clockwork efficiency, consistency, and predictability.

    Nothing less than a transformation in management and organisational design is necessary for the kind of actions that you acknowledge/celebrate to occur, as needed, in organisations. To promote any other view smacks of charlatanism to me. And I have been wrong many times.

    All the best,
    maz

  2. “organisations, by design, are care-less settings, where flexibility, responsiveness, genuine humanity is not welcome” – what a great quote – I completely agree Maz – it is because of this that business in general today has lost sight of the importance of the emotional connection between people – employees and customers.

    In many of my stories, the humanity of one or two individuals is what shines above and beyond the management and cultural ethos of the companies they represent.

    So I am in agreement with you – a transformation of leadership, management and organisational design is necessary for celebrations like those in my blogs are to become a standard way of working, rather than ‘one-offs’ exceptions to be lauded.

    Thanks as always for taking the time and to read and respond so eloquently Maz.

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