Like Riding a Bike – Architects Guide to Glass and Metal


Prices are up on everything. We all know that too well. Even though we would just like to stop buying things, there are still things we need, whether for our homes or our jobs. So here’s a question you’ve heard before: when the prices of everything you buy, from groceries to glass, have gone up, how do you decide where to shop?

If you say “customer service”, you are not mistaken. Good customer service is essential to taking care of your clients and customers. But, when everyone, everywhere faces so many challenges, how do you stand out from the competition? Let me give you an example.

My son just started sixth grade. He has been attending this school since kindergarten and they follow a unique grading system. Instead of getting an A, B, C, or D (and so on), they get E, M, W, and N. These scores represent exceeding expectations, mastered expectations, work towards controlling expectations, not meet expectations.

Here are some great visuals to better show what those ratings mean. Imagine four children, each riding a bicycle. Not only does the first child ride a bike, but he does tricks, pirouettes, and flips, clearly exceeding expectations for being able to ride a bike. The second child rides the bike well and rides unassisted; this kid masters the bike but doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary. The third child rides well, but still falls sometimes and may need help getting started; this child is working on learning to ride. The fourth child still has training wheels on the bike and needs a lot of help.

How are you with your bike? Are you exceeding customer expectations or are you still working on it?

Here is another example. We had a very nice bottle of Contigo brand water. I liked it a lot because it had a hinged lid that you could lock so that it couldn’t spill water if it tipped over. Unfortunately, the lid broke. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but we couldn’t fix it. The bottle part was good so I decided to go online to see if I could buy a replacement lid. I checked the company’s website and Amazon, but couldn’t find the exact lid I needed. So I decided to contact Contigo directly and ask because you don’t know unless you ask.

I filled out their customer service form explaining what happened and uploaded a picture of the bottle that needed a lid. I asked if I could possibly purchase a replacement lid.

I’ve filled out online customer service forms from other companies before. Some of them are still waiting for answers; others send a response in a week or two. I had a response from Contigo within days. I couldn’t believe the answer.

This was the nicest customer service response I have ever received. Sherrylyn apologized for the delay (it was only two days) and that I was upset about the situation with my bottle. “Please allow me to sort this out for you,” she wrote. She explained to me that my bottle cap was no longer available and that she would send me a replacement bottle. She then said I could keep the old bottle as a spare or throw it away or recycle it. She then gave me the site which offers information on recycling.

She explained that their product stock levels changed quickly so I might not get the exact bottle and it might be something comparable that was readily available.

Wow! I was so overwhelmed with customer service that I emailed them back thanking them and letting them know how much I appreciate their attention.

A few days later, my replacement bottle arrived. And again, I was blown away because not only did they send me the new bottle (which is the newer model than the one I had), but they sent me two bottles. This company more than met my expectations; they skipped the wheelie of all bike rides and exceeded my expectations.

So, again, how do you ride a bike? Examine your own systems and operations and assess yourself. What score do you get?


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