A Customer Service Christmas Story


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Christmas TreeAmazing Customer Service

It’s holiday time. Happy Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and any other holiday you might celebrate this time of year. A few years back I shared a story about an Ace Hardware manager who really went above and beyond for his customer. The story was about a Christmas tree and, during the holiday season, I can’t think of a better story to tell to illustrate an example of amazing customer service.

An elderly lady was visiting the Ace Hardware store in Dunedin, Florida, looking at Christmas trees around holiday time. The trees were lined up in front of the store, and the store manager, Jeffrey Gawel, was helping her choose one. She spotted a tree and said, “Boy, I’d sure love that tree, and I know it would look great in my living room, but it’s just too darned tall for me to decorate at my age. It’s too big to carry into my apartment, and I’m not going to make my way up a ladder to decorate the tree. I’m just too old for that.”

The woman was just vocalizing her thoughts. She wasn’t really asking for his help. So you can imagine her surprise when the manager said, “Oh, that’s no problem at all. I’ll be happy to deliver it to your home, and even help you decorate it.”

Surely he was kidding! But, actually, he wasn’t!

Sure enough, Jeffrey delivered that tree to his customer’s home. The woman had boxes of cherished mementos and ornaments to decorate the tree with. And here is the amazing part of the story. The next year he did it again. It became a tradition. For nine years this woman would come by the store, pick out the tree, and it would be delivered that evening. Nine years!

As they decorated the tree, the woman would tell stories. Jeffrey jokes that he had to listen to same ones over and over each year. She served him a piece of banana bread and a Diet Coke every time. He said it was like spending time with a new grandma.

This tradition finally ended when his friend passed away in her eighties. At the funeral there were only ten people, and he was one of them.

She had told all of her neighbors about Jeffrey and the special time they had together. This manager had become much, much more than a hardware store manager. He became more than just a friend. It was like he was family. All because he was willing to do a little something extra to take care of his customers.

A few thoughts come to mind:

What would it be like if you treated your customer like he or she was your grandparent?

What’s your version of the Christmas tree story?

Don’t wait until Christmas to be amazing. Do it all year long!

Happy Holidays!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


  1. Shep,

    The Wheel Works tire retail chain in the Bay Area, when it was independently owned, had a sign in all their stores reminding employees to treat each customer as if it was their grandmother. It worked and made them a top retailer in the area.


  2. NICE! I just mentioned this concept to someone and he said, “What if I don’t like my grandmother?” First I felt sorry for him. Then I said, “It’s the concept.” HA!


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