Posted on : 11-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Inspirational
Tags: Build a Bear, Customer Service, Inspiration
A passion of mine has always been good Customer Service. I look for it with every interaction I have with companies. I also tend to be very vocal when I do not receive service that I expect to receive. I feel it is important to be just as vocal when things are done that just overwhelm you for being so far above that words can not describe. I have had just one of those experiences a number of years ago. The woman that went so far above and beyond that I still think about today is a woman named Maxine Clark.
Many of you have never heard of Maxine. She was a leader in the former May Department Store chain, and she served as President of Payless Shoe Source from 1992 to 1996. I never heard of Maxine either, until one Saturday night. That is when I came into this amazing woman who founded Build a Bear Workshop in 1997. We received mail addressed to our deceased daughter Gia, a little over a year after she past. To be honest I was in a rage over it, I could not figure how a company would have her name. I obviously was not thinking straight because one of my fondest memories with Gia was at a Build a Bear Workshop. I immediately looked up the CEO of Build a Bear and fired off an email asking to have her name removed from the mailing list. To my surprise I almost immediately received a response from Maxine. This began numerous emails back and forth. She was very apologetic, but beyond that she wanted to learn more about us. She started to review our website. She also asked some questions to better understand what we went through. I can’t tell you how impressed I was by her. She was down to earth, yet a smart and savvy business person. She has firm beliefs regarding service and she is obviously very hands on in creating the right experience for every child that enters her store. I immediately knew I would be dedicated to her organization. The interesting thing was she totally had me turned around by simply being herself.
Now if the emails were not enough, she was impressed with our work for charities and wanted to offer something to help them. She asked about our favorite charities. At the time they were the Candlelighters of Delaware (a great charity helping families dealing with pediatric cancer) and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Her team contacted these charities. They provided numerous gift cards for Candlelighters to be distributed to the families going through so much. You would not believe the gratitude from these families and this small charity. Maxine and her team made a huge difference for so many people. Build a Bear also donated parties to be auctioned off by the CF Foundation during an Evening with the Philadelphia Eagles, an event I helped organize and the year prior I was the speaker. Unfortunately an employee of that charity kept asking for more. To this day I am upset by that. So on behalf of families dealing with CF, I apologize to the Build a Bear team and Maxine. That individual is not associated with the charity anymore. Anyway, Build a Bear went so far above the normal and I am so appreciative for what Maxine did. She and her team have made a difference in many people’s lives.
All I wanted to do was make sure we did not get mail in Gia’s name. There was no need for Maxine to do anything beyond that. In fact from a business perspective, Lily and Robyn were not born yet, so I did not anticipate purchasing in the future. But of course now I will. Maxine, you truly did build a company with a heart, it is modeled after you!
Have you ever have someone turn a negative situation into such a positive that you would think about it years later?