An Amazing Customer Service Idea: The Five Dollar Lifeboat


Hi There! This is Shep Hyken, Customer Service
and Experience Expert. On this video I am sharing an amazing customer service ideam
the five dollar lifeboat. Tom Glenn, a second generation owner of a chain of Ace Hardware
stores, tells a wonderful story about his father, Elder Glenn. One day an agitated customer
came in the store and walked up to Elder and stated, “I have a problem.” It turns out the
customer bought two items that each had a $5.00 rebate. The customer claimed he did
exactly what he was supposed to do to get his rebates, which was to mail the receipt
and the code on the package to the manufacturer. The rebates never showed up, and the customer
was upset. Now, it wasn’t Elder’s fault. It may have been lost in the mail, or perhaps
the customer did make an error. However, it became Elder’s problem — a problem he planned
to solve. And, he did so quickly, easily and with no hassle to his customer. Elder simply
went over to the cashier and asked her to take two five dollar bills out of the cash
register. He handed them over to a surprised customer, who had obviously expected a confrontation.
From that point on Elder had a customer — and a friend — for life. Every time the customer
came in the store he would seek out Elder to just say, “Hello.” Elder would go on to
use this example in one of his team meetings. He shared this story and referred to it as
the “Five Dollar Lifeboat.” The lesson to his associates was that for just five dollars
he turned an unhappy customer who might never come back that might be worth hundreds, if
not thousands, of dollars into a loyal fan of the store. He gave permission to his employees
to use the Five Dollar Lifeboat whenever necessary to take care of a customer. There are plenty
of companies who have similar Five Dollar Lifeboat procedures. The Ritz-Carlton comes
to mind with their Two Thousand Dollar Lifeboat. Okay, they don’t call it a lifeboat, but similar
to Elder Glenn’s concept, an employee of the Ritz-Carlton has the ability to spend up to
two thousand dollars to take care of a guest who has been wronged. Both Ace Hardware associates
and the Ritz-Carlton employees have been trained to understand how and when to put this tool
into action. In order for this, and just about any other customer focused concept to be effective
you must: Properly train employees. Empower, which means trust, the employees to do it
right. When they do it right, celebrate the success. If they do it wrong, make it a teachable
moment that doesn’t erode their confidence and trust in the system. Well, I hope you
enjoyed this short lesson. Please be sure to visit my website which is, www.hyken.com.
Thank you very much for watching. This is Shep Hyken, reminding you to Always Be Amazing!

One thought on “An Amazing Customer Service Idea: The Five Dollar Lifeboat

  1. Empower, which means trust, the employees to do it right.
    When they do it right, celebrate the #success .

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