Let me tell you a true story about a gentleman who I met a few years ago and what happened to him, because he did not just talk about “customer care” he demonstrated it and went the extra distance. The results are mind blowing.
In 1973 a twenty-three-year-old man named Joe Kotow had a sales job working with a cemetery in Florida, USA. One day he received a phone inquiry from an older couple who were interested in buying a mausoleum crypt. That night Joe made his way out to the neighbourhood where they lived. At first glance it was obvious to Joe that this husband and wife were not wealthy. It was not going to be easy to persuade them to buy a mausoleum crypt. The house was a $20 000, 1200-square-foot, two bedroom home with one bathroom. The furniture was modest, and the couple was retired and living on social security.
This was an “old country” couple from Germany. While the husband did all the talking, his wife either spent her time in the kitchen or serving sweets and tea to the two men. The man obviously had an engineering background. He demanded answers to such questions as, “What is the stress per square inch the crypt could handle?”
Several hours later the husband would still not commit and said he would call Joe if he decided to buy. The next day the man called and asked Joe to come and see him that night. He wanted to buy two of the crypts Joe had! Joe was surprised. He spent another evening with the couple and agreed to spread the payment over a period of sixty days. Joe could see that this couple had very few friends and relatives in Florida. When he was leaving he sincerely told them that if they needed anything, to please call him. He gave a business card to the husband and one to his wife. (Many salespeople would only give a business card to the husband.)
Within a month Joe got a call from the husband. He asked Joe if he could hold his cheque for thirty days while he and his wife went to Germany. They needed the money. The company agreed to wait another thirty days.
Several weeks later Joe got a phone call from the wife in Germany. They were loading the car to head to the airport when her husband had a heart attack and died. She did not know what to do, but she remembered the nice young man from the cemetery. Joe’s business card was in her purse. She phoned him asking if he could help.
Joe made several calls to Germany and arranged for the husband’s body to be shipped back to Florida, prepaid. He attended the small funeral and did not hear from the woman again until she phoned him one month later. She apologized for bothering him again, but she was in need of help. The trauma from her husband’s death emotionally drained her, and she had ended up in the hospital for several weeks. She explained to Joe that she was feeling okay, but that she was worried about the hospital bill, the two doctor’s bills, and some other bills. She did not even know how to write a cheque, was not sure if she had any money, and would like Joe to help her a little.
Joe went to her home and, with her approval, proceeded to rummage through her deceased husband’s desk. He stumbled across a paid life insurance policy valued at $150 000. It also looked as if her husband had quite a few stocks (shares). She had some money in the bank, so Joe agreed to take a day off work and go with her. They paid the bills at the hospital and two doctor’s offices, and then he dropped her off at her attorney’s office.
Joe waited patiently outside in the reception area while the elderly woman visited her attorney. After quite some time the attorney approached Joe and invited him in. He told Joe that the lady explained to him all the things Joe had done for her. She felt that she never would have made it without him, and for his time and effort she wanted to pay him. Joe informed the attorney that he was not interested in being paid. The attorney then told Joe that the woman was quite wealthy. Joe quickly explained that he had seen her house and the insurance policy, and in his own opinion she only had enough to look after herself for several years. The attorney went on to explain that they had found an additional $500 000 paid life insurance policy and $2,5 million in stock.(That was in 1973).
The lady then pleaded with Joe, “Please take my gift. I have no children and no relatives anyway.” Joe finally accepted the gift of 1,250 shares of AT&T preferred stock valued at $64 000 at that time.(R500,000.00 at that time). She also gave him $100 in cash to cover the cost and expenses for him taking the day off to drive her around. In addition, she asked him to accept a handmade crystal flower basket she had bought back from Germany. Joe still has it.
Every Easter morning Joe went by her condominium that overlooked the bay and picked her up and took her to the Easter Sunrise Service. She passed away a couple of years ago.
I met Joe Kotow in January 1992. He had just been appointed CEO of Triple-A Employment in Clearwater, Florida. Joe told me this story in the hospitality suite after I had just spoken to his office partners at a convention on the topic of Marketing and Servicing From The Inside-Out. He did it expecting no return, and look at the lesson he learned about giving and receiving!
As you can see when Joe truly helped there was really something in it for him. I cannot guarantee this will happen to you, but I can guarantee it won’t happen to someone who only thinks “What is in it for me?” Go the extra distance!
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Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is www.bill-gibson.com and his website is www.kbitraining.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gibsonbill or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/knowledgebrokers?ref=hl