The Power of Exceeding Expectations

There are no traffic jams along the extra mile. Roger Staubach

N ick Joy. Rockstar? Radio personality? Professional wrestler? Superhero? Perhaps. I met him briefly and cannot speak to what he does outside of helping customers at Staples. His name struck me as both memorable and out of place when I encountered him recently in my search for a new printer.

You see, Nick interrupted me. He deliberately interfered with my rain-soaked, black-cloud-hovering-over-me, frustrating day. Nick Joy had the gall to ask me if he could help. The nerve.

Nick Joy had the gall to ask me if he could help.

No, a broken multi-function printer/fax/scanner is really not the end of the world. But isn’t that how frustrations work? Typically, they are smallish interruptions bent on throwing us into some other trajectory; anything besides the one we were trying to follow for that particular day.

There I stood. Wet from the downpour I encountered trekking from my SUV parked 20 feet from the door. Does it get any worse? Apparently not, considering my poor attitude, frowning face, and grizzly-bear irritation at simply having to be in that store at that time on that day. As if that wasn’t enough, I’d just spent 25 minutes pacing the same aisle looking at boxes of printers for the one model I wanted – only to find that it wasn’t there.

Add one more annoyance to my list: a voice from behind me asks “May I help you?” “Apparently not,” I replied, ‘you don’t have the printer I want.” I tried not to sound sarcastic – I really didn’t want to be rude but I’m fairly certain I did not succeed. Nick Joy was nonplussed. “Which one do you want?” I turned and looked at him. His hair was disheveled. His shirt was wet and partially untucked. Was he sweating or was that moisture from the rain?

Was he sweating or was that moisture from the rain?

On that rainy day, amidst my bad mood, the indignity of equipment failure, and a host of other silly irritants, I was confronted with the service equivalent of a force of nature. Nick Joy seized my printer challenge with a brutal efficiency, sweeping me away in a rush of technical details, cost of ownership studies, ink efficiency studies, and arcane model nuances until I could fight no more. My questions were answered. My doubts assuaged. My frustration kicked-aside as I stood stunned.

What just happened? Before I knew it, I was at the check-out. A new printer waiting for me. Five hundred dollars worth of ink and accessories neatly packaged on the counter. Nick Joy stepped-up. asking another clerk to step aside as he brought this transaction to closure. At this point, I intentionally looked at his name tag. Before this, I didn’t know there was such a thing as Nick Joy.

Sixty seconds later, Nick Joy was loading my new printer into my SUV. I stood watching him, wondering if I should offer him a job on the spot. “Have a great day Mr. Berry!” And he was gone, leaving me standing in the rain, thunderstruck.

And he was gone, leaving me standing in the rain, thunderstruck.

As I considered my experience, I wondered what made Nick Joy so effective at managing my situation. How was he able to help me when I so clearly didn’t want to be helped? Was he trained this way or was it intuitive? I can’t really say. However, he gives us some lessons worth highlighting:

  • A sincere heart for service is disarming and engaging.
  • People often say they don’t need or want any help when maybe they aren’t sure how to ask for help.
  • Expertise in your product, craft, or service serves as the foundation for your ability to help.
  • Answering a question is one thing. Going the distance is another. Nick Joy owned my experience from the store floor to my car in the parking lot.
  • People are happy to pay for value. I spent twice as much as I expected and I was smiling as I left that store.
  • You can delight someone efficiently without having to gush emotion. Nick Joy was friendly but didn’t coddle. He was respectful without being obsequious.
  • You can give your own brand of special no matter your title, job. occupation, or personality. Was Nick Joy a Manager? A floor clerk? An intern? Another customer? Who cares? He nailed it.

Thank you Nick Joy for interrupting my bad day and reminding me of the power of exceeding another’s expectations.

Note: names have not been changed to protect anyone.

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