A customer service story

One Tuesday morning in July a customer came into the Austin Ten Thousand Villages Store on a special shopping mission. She wanted to purchase additions to a set of ceramic ware for her daughter.

I recognized our shopper’s description of the beautiful blue- green and black ceramic ware made in Vietnam and found that in the Austin store we had only two cups and one plate of the desired products.

Our Shopper was delighted to find the desired cup, but worried that we had only one dinner plate. What to do? Kitty, the store manager, quickly pulled up the Ten Thousand Villages inventory online, only to find that this ceramic ware had been discontinued. Our best hope was to find plate in another Villages store.

The shopper’s daughter lived in Indiana. A look in the Villages store directory gave us two stores in Indiana and Illinois that were in reasonable distances from her daughter’s home. We were able to continue our plate search over the telephone, speaking to friendly sales persons in both stores. The plate we wanted was remembered, but unfortunately neither store had any plates still in stock. They told us that this ceramic ware had been discontinued and wished us luck in our search.

Then we thought of calling the Houston, Texas store. We hoped that if the Houston store had a plate, it could be shipped to the Austin store where our shopper could happily complete her purchase.

The call to the Houston store was neighborly and fun. Yes, they had one of the desired plates in stock. Could they ship the plate to our Austin store? “Better than that,” the store manager told us. She was driving to Austin the very next day for a short visit with her daughter who lives here. The Houston manager told us if she had time she could make a quick drop off of the plate to our store.

Then from the back of our store, Kitty, who had been paying close attention to this plate search process, called out to us that she lived a couple of blocks from the Houston manager’s daughter here in Austin.

We told the Houston manager to bring the plate to Austin and leave it with her daughter. Kitty would pick up the plate in her neighborhood and bring it to the Austin store where our very happy shopper could pick it up.

We joined our shopper in a little celebration of our success with hugs and “high fives.” On my next day in the store, I learned that the plate had been delivered to our shopper according to plan making a very happy ending to this shopping story.

“Ask Me Why I Volunteer,” reads my name tag. I volunteer for opportunities such as this one in which I can help customers have pleasant and satisfying shopping experiences in our Austin Ten Thousand Villages Store.

written by Nancy Martin, volunteer