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.

Forbes.com Contributor

It is a true privilege to be a columnist at Forbes. Forbes is a community of talented people with deep knowledge in their genre.

Learn people’s names – It truly is a first step in trust building.

Submit a Digital Success StoryI look forward to sharing our learning together!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,

consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliter enim explicari, quod quaeritur, non potest. Duo Reges: constructio interrete. Equidem etiam Epicurum, in physicis quidem, Democriteum puto. Iubet igitur nos Pythius Apollo noscere nosmet ipsos. Primum Theophrasti, Strato, physicum se voluit; At Zeno eum non beatum modo, sed etiam divitem dicere ausus est. Ita prorsus, inquam.

Ergo et avarus erit, sed finite, et adulter, verum habebit modum, et luxuriosus eodem modo. Negabat igitur ullam esse artem, quae ipsa a se proficisceretur;