When was the last time you had a lousy or great customer experience in NYC? Well I had both this morning in a matter of 30 minutes. It’s one of those frigid winter days. Actually, my favorite kind of day with temperatures in the single digits, bright sunshine and low humidity. I know many of you think this is odd. Fortunately, I was dressed for the occasion. I walked over to the NY Public Library on 34th and Madison thinking I was attending a seminar on social media. (I had the day wrong.) I arrived about 9:50 for what I thought was a 10 o’clock seminar. A number of us about 10 were standing out on the street waiting for the doors to open. I could tell not everyone was as enamored with the weather as I was. I also noticed that I was the only woman waiting which I thought was odd. Finally someone came out and opened the front door so that those of us waiting could stand in the warmth of the vestibule. Why they couldn't do this earlier is a puzzlement. People dashed inside, where we waited for another 5-10 minutes for the interior doors to open. For many they were pleased to get out of the cold. We finally were let in and I had a sneaking suspicion I was at the wrong location or had entered the date incorrectly. So I started asking people behind desks. First young man I asked said I should ask the librarian at the other end of this very long desk. I moved down, saw two other women and asked if either was the librarian. They pointed to a woman at the far end of the desk. As I walked up a gentleman came from the other direction and she turned to help him. I stood there waiting my turn when she looked up with a grim face and said curtly “you have to stand behind the stanchions”. I felt like a kid being scolded. When it was finally my turn, which seemed like an eternity but in reality was no more than two or three minutes she sent me over to an office where the inhabitant would likely know about what I was asking. As I walked out I couldn’t help but wonder about this woman with a sour disposition and the others who expressed little or no interest in helping me. They were just starting their day and were already disengaged. How would the rest of the day unfold for them and all those with whom they come in contact? I was out of the office, it was early, why not go and replace my iPhone which I’ve had for 3 years and had seen better times? I began walking in the direction of the ATT store in which I’d made my original purchase when something told me should go to 34th street. Fritz Perls used to say, "when you don't know what direction to go in, follow your feet". Which is what I did. On the ground floor of the Empire State Building is an ATT store. I walked in and was immediately greeted with a smile and warm hello by a young man who asked if he could be of assistance. I told him I was thinking of getting a new iPhone and wasn’t sure which one to get. After showing him my existing phone and discussing usage he discussed options with me. When I mentioned my difficulty with reception at our weekend home he said he would try to correct that which he did by providing a micro cell device. He set up the phone, transferred data and told me I could give the old phone, which he was surprised looked so good, to a friend, charity or get a refund on it. This man, Samba, was wonderful. I asked to speak with his manager so that I could tell him how pleased I was with my experience. Greg and I spoke and he asked if I wouldn’t mind putting my comments in an email so that he could put them in Samba’s file. I was so impressed. You know I wrote that email before I wrote this blog.
So in a matter of 30 minutes I experienced the extremes of organization engagement. Being “put in my place” and passed off to one person after another at the library. Not one of them was willing to exert a little extra energy and engage a customer. At the other end of the spectrum I was welcomed in the ATT store. Fully informed of my options, I made a purchase and then had everything activated. It was a complete experience. The manager had laid the foundation on which to build an engaged organization. Kudos to Samba and Greg at the ATT store on 34th and 5th Avenue. You made my day!