How Academy Sports Delighted Me

How Academy Sports Delighted Me

This morning I got a master class in customer service that I will not soon forget.

I was in search of a sturdy bicycle helmet and Academy Sports (off Austin TX Highway 183) was my first stop. Thankfully, I found one that was just right and I prepared to buy it and go riding. I walked to the cash registers and got in the shortest line. When my turn came, I handed my helmet to young male checker who couldn’t find the price. He called a manager for help and Jackie appeared. Reflecting later on the experience, I realize that’s exactly when the magic started to happen.

First, she used her phone and entered the helmet’s stock number. No luck. She then excused herself to find a store computer to do a deeper search on the item. Apologizing for the wait, Jackie quoted a price of $34.95, which matched a merchandise sign I remembered eyeing near the store’s helmet section.

But then the unexpected happened! With a matter-of-fact voice Jackie said: “Because I kept you waiting, I’m applying a five-dollar discount to your purchase.” “Oh my,” I said with a smile on my face. I went on to tell her in my business that’s referred to as “unexpectedly delighting” the customer. “Really?” she replied. “It’s common practice here: When we inconvenience a customer, we’re trained to make it worth their time.” She added, “If this happens to you again, and you are not offered a discount, ask for a manager.”

As somebody who teaches organizations how to do this, I was more than impressed. I was moved.

Here’s just one hand-full of short lessons from that master class in customer service:

  • Elating the customer is obviously “hard-wired” into this organization from top to bottom. I know from helping companies for years that this doesn’t happen overnight.
  • In today’s world of “one-click” shopping, this brick and mortar retail store “gets” that the walk-in retail customers are priceless and the retail floor is where they can shine.
  • This organization understands buyers are busy and when they walk in the store the clock is ticking in their head with a message that goes something like this: “This is my last errand before I get to my kid’s soccer game.” The customer wants to get in and out quickly.
  • At this sports chain, the culture has absorbed that earning customer loyalty is a fragile build and the tiniest of shortfalls demands a remedy. It’s in their DNA. And, it shows.
  • Jackie was empowered by her organization to quickly respond to a customer issue and not only solve it but go above and beyond to offer a discount. Her company trusted her to do the right thing and gave her room to do it.

This is how you transform a what should have been a routine customer experience into an unforgettable one.

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