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Chris LoCurto

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March 10, 2011

Please Accept My Anthropologie!

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Teresa Duke and I were talking about customer service one day, and she shared the following story with me:

Anthropologie is an upscale ladies’ fashion store in the Mall at Green Hills in Nashville. They have the cutest clothes ever! They’re a little pricey, but the quality is great, and I can always find something fantastic in the sale room. It’s also happens to be my daughter Lindsay’s favorite store.

A few days before her birthday, I purchased an Anthropologie gift card for her. She lives in Philadelphia, so she could use it in the store there or in New York. I hurriedly slapped the card in an envelope with a birthday card and dropped it in the mail, satisfied that I had sent the perfect gift.

A couple of days later, I spoke with Lindsay and discovered it had not arrived. I was disappointed that it didn’t make it to her by her birthday, but I figured she would receive it in a day or two. Two weeks went by and it still wasn’t there, and it had not come back to me. I assumed the USPS lost it or someone had stolen it.

That’s when I called Anthropologie and met Cherea. She said they could definitely replace the card if I had my receipt. Only thing is, I mailed the receipt with the card (in case the card didn’t load, or if there was a problem)!

“Okay,” Cherea cheerfully said. “Do you remember the day, approximate time and the cash register you used?” I gave her all that information along with my debit card number, and Cherea began searching. She spent a good deal of her time that afternoon going through transactions. I know, because she called me a couple of times asking for more information. I couldn’t remember which register I had used, so she had to check more than one.

Finally she called me late that afternoon to let me know she had found the transaction, deleted the original card, and replaced it with a new gift card, which she would send directly to Lindsay via UPS!

“I’m so glad we got this resolved!” she said enthusiastically.

It was then that I realized she had taken my problem and made it her own. That’s what great customers service is all about! It certainly wasn’t Anthropologie’s fault that the post office lost the card or that I mailed it in a way that couldn’t be tracked.

Cherea took ownership of the problem anyway and never once did she make me feel like I was a bother. Lindsay was thrilled when she got the gift card. Now I love Anthropologie more than ever. I’m a customer for life! Next time, I may even shop in the full-price section.

Chris LoCurto

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March 9, 2011

When You Should Give Cookies!

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably seen the updates on Nanny, my mother-in-law. She’s had one heck of a rough ride. She was transferred to a new hospital due to insurance stuff that I don’t want to get into right now. Needless to say, it’s been a tough process.

She keeps having days of progress. She also has days of setbacks. A few days ago, we had another “one of those” days. The doctors gave her something that made her sick, so she wasn’t able to move forward with the therapy that’s making her better.

To make matters worse, while we were at the hospital trying to help her feel better, a “social worker” came in and after saying hi, asked what our plans for discharge were. I couldn’t hold back my burst of laughter.

Discharge? She just got here a couple of days ago! She’s supposed to be here until she’s better! Ugh! So we… discussed the need for her to get better before she’s discharged. We were then told, “It’s an insurance thing.” Ahhhh! There it is again! Insurance!

We left the hospital feeling less than excited and very hungry. We decided to stop at a favorite place to get great food quick: Maniac’s. We went in and immediately saw familiar faces behind the counter. Our server asked us how our day was going.

We kind of just smiled. I mentioned that Debbie’s mom was in the hospital and it had been a rough day. Our server was really sweet and sympathized with us. We gave her our order and asked if they had any of their famous big chocolate-chip cookies. She was disappointed to tell us that they were in the oven and wouldn’t be done and cooled off while we were there.

No biggie. We were just glad to sit down and eat. By the time we were done, another server came to us and asked us not to leave yet. She said we were going to be “taken care of.” A few minutes later, our main server returned with a gooey, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie. She set it down and said, “You need this today!”

We were blown away. I mean, yeah, it was just a cookie – actually, a really good cookie. But she went out of her way to get that to us just to make our day a little brighter. Who does that? Well, people who work in a place that allows that kind of action. A place where leadership gives its team members the ability to give away product in the name of making customers happy.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, that gesture from the heart just made us more loyal to the company. In a world where you get charged 25 cents to add… I dunno… sour cream on a potato, it’s nice to get a free, “hope this blesses you and makes you all warm inside” cookie!

Not only will we frequent Maniac’s more, but I just wrote about it and sent it to you guys!

Take care of your customers. You never know what it might lead to.

If you’re diggin’ this blog, please feel free to share it with your friends, post it on Twitter or Facebook, or just keep following.

Chris LoCurto

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March 8, 2011

Come Here Kid!

March 8, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

The Washington Post reported on a new way that banks are taking advantage of people – in this case, college students.

Shortly after students show up on campus, they receive a welcome letter that contains a MasterCard from a company called Higher One. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill credit card. It’s a card that accesses student loans. That’s right, students can use the cards to add debt to their student loans that they already can’t afford. Not only that, but the cards also come with high fees.

So this company is essentially targeting kids who are in debt and have no money of their own (Right? Or they wouldn’t have a loan.), is encouraging them to spend more money they don’t have, and then topping it all off with high fees.

This is genius! Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Let’s get all of our graduating students in horribly desperate situations and send them out into the workforce. That ought to make for some open-minded, creative, happy workers.

According to the report, college officials contend that the loan cards make it easier for administrators and can provide income for cash-strapped schools. So… let’s get students further in debt so the school can make more money? This is ridiculous!

The article goes on to quote Anne Gross, legislative affairs director for the National Association of College and University Business Officers, as saying, “Sometimes people are looking for evil intent where there is none.” Riiiiiiiiight, because this plan is angelic!

If you’re a parent of a college student or a soon-to-be college student, there are three things you can do to avoid the college debt trap:

  • Edumacate ‘em – It is your duty to make sure your kids leave your house as responsible adults. Please tell me you’re not expecting the school to do that. Make sure that they understand how to handle money by budgeting and living on less than they make.
  • Scare ‘em – Do everything you can to teach them the dangers of debt. Show them how they are going to be tempted, and basically attacked, by offers that sound really good but will make them slaves to debt.
  • Hit ‘em – On their cell phone, that is. Make a point to stay in touch with your kids and hold them accountable. You want to know what they’re doing in their relationships and if they’re staying out of trouble. It’s the same with money. Ask them how they’re doing financially and find out if they’ve been approached about debt. It will train them to always be on the lookout.

On top of all of this, pray! I promise, you can’t do too much of that. Think about the pitfalls you constantly had to navigate at their age – and then multiply them by 10!

Question: What great advice do you have for students starting out?

Chris LoCurto

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March 7, 2011

Grease Is The word!

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Since I travel a ton, I stay in a lot of hotels. All different kinds, shapes, colors and brands. Each being a little different, and yet, strangely the same. My routine is pretty much the same, too. I almost always get to a hotel at night, hopefully with enough time to go eat somewhere.

Hotel Towels

Image by davidsteltz via Flickr

When I get to my room, I always turn on the TV for background noise, find a place for my suitcase, unpack the things that need to not be wrinkled, put my shaving kit in the bathroom and then sit down to write… or channel surf for two minutes before I realize what I always realize – there’s really never anything good on a hotel TV.

I set two alarms: a wake-up call and the in-room alarm clock. Why? The first time you only set one and it doesn’t work, you’ll understand. Going to bed is all about finding which of the four pillows on the bed will work. Hopefully they aren’t all the kind that the second you touch them, they deflate like a soufflé.

Since I set two alarms, I always set the clock alarm for 10 minutes before the wake-up call. I know what you’re thinking… that’s so I have 10 minutes on the snooze button. Actually, it gives me a little time to wake up, and I use that time for prayer. I’m not sure if God understands anything I say at that moment, but it’s the thought that counts…right?

I stopped using caffeine to wake me up a long time ago. So sometimes it takes me a little longer to get my senses going. But nothing helps that more than a great shower. And you always hope that you have a great shower. As you reach for the faucet, you have that fear, Is this going to be a 10-year-old, water-saving shower head?

Exiting the shower is one of the most crucial parts of the morning for me. Again, I’m still not really awake. But I turn the shower off, slide open the curtain which lets the steam out, and reach for a fresh, clean, fluffy white towel. My whole life I have had a habit that the first thing I do is take both hands and dry off my face. I’ve done it so long that I don’t think I could ever change that habit.

So, I take the towel, put it to my face, and BAM! There it is! The smell of grease! Yep, since it’s a hotel, and it has a kitchen, they have a tendency to wash their room towels with the kitchen towels that were used to wipe up all of the used grease. Ugh! Well, I’m awake now!

Every time it happens, I think to myself, Stop smelling the towels! No. Actually, I think to myself that the people who run hotels must not take showers in hotels. Now, I’m not saying that they should leave home every day, come to work, find an empty room, and take a shower. I’m just saying that if they would experience their hotel a few times a year like we do, surely they would realize that there’s a funk among the towels. Then they could simply…change the process.

What areas of your business have you not experienced from the customer’s point of view? Take the time to walk in your customers’ footsteps. You just might be surprised by what you find.

Chris LoCurto

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March 4, 2011

You Can’t Have That!

March 4, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Today we are in Kansas City for the EntreLeadership 1-Day event teaching business owners and leaders how to grow and build their business. And I just want to say that I am a capitalist! I have no problem with someone leaving the cave, killing something, dragging it home, and keeping it!

My New iPhone 4 Arrived today! - June 29, 2010

The Bible specifically says the diligent will prosper. If I decide to put my energy into creating a product that changes or enhances lives, and I make money for that, what’s the problem?

There is this crazy idea that you shouldn’t be able to make a lot of money for your hard work. If you do, you should give it all away. Who came up with this idea?

I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I do know who brings it up all the time. It’s always someone who doesn’t have anything. Someone who isn’t willing to work their tail off to obtain a better standard of living.

Someone who thinks that life and money should be handed to them. This is the same person who wants to partake in luxuries but doesn’t want the company who makes those luxuries to have any money.

Question for ya: How would Apple research, develop, and get the iPhone out to market if it didn’t have any cash? “Didn’t a lot of this stuff start in a garage somewhere?” Yes! And do you remember how long it took to get to market? Be reasonable.

Does this mean that I don’t think businesses should give? Not at all. In fact, David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, recently gave $70 million to a university. $70 MILLION! Now ya can’t do that if you don’t have any money, can you?

On the way back from lunch today, I saw two people standing in a median, each with a stop sign on a stick that read, “STOP CORPORATE TAKEOVER.” That’s right. Two healthy-looking people, in the middle of a workday, denouncing corporate “greed” to everyone who drove by.

I didn’t see that they were getting much support. After all, most of us were on our way to earn our living by working for those “greedy” corporations who pay us.

I believe most people are not upset about what other people have. They’re upset about what they don’t have. Again, the diligent prosper. If you want more, instead of being jealous of someone else, try working harder. Or come up with other ways to make money.

Don’t be a hater! (That’s street lingo.) I once heard that the difference between jealousy and envy is with envy, you want what someone has. With jealousy, you want what they have, and you don’t want them to have it.

Let’s just work on getting what we want and not worry about what others have, mmmkay? Please share some situations that you’ve experienced.