Thoughts From the Coffee Table: Yesterday was a great day! Wait, no. It was a terrible day. No, no wait. It was a great day. OK, decide for yourself.
Schweitzer Ski Mountain in Northern Idaho, is a spectacular place to view the world. Multiple vantage points overlook Lake Pend Oreille, and the site can take your breath away. While enjoying this view on a particularly good visibility day, I got a rock. Yep. I skied over a rock.
I both felt and heard the damage done in an instance, and in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t hang up hard enough on that low snow condition hazard to the point of self-injury. At the end of the day while loading the skis onto my truck, I surveyed the damage and spotted what I knew was a fatal injury. The edge was blown out right under my boot.
Much like rushing a loved one to the hospital, I took them immediately to The Alpine Shop in Sandpoint, ID where I’d purchased them 4 years before. They confirmed my diagnosis. Bring on the grief counselor.
Before I could even mention that I had purchased my last 2 pairs of skis, boots and bindings there, the owner offered a 20% discount on the modern equivalent of my ski! That’s where I realized the difference between a business focused on customer loyalty and one focused on customer EMPATHY.
Loyalty programs are a “this for that” arrangement. You shop here, they give you points, you get stuff for the points and they get your “loyalty.” Think big coffee chains, airline miles programs, big box retail stores or even that big online retailer and the like who tout their customer ecospheres.
In contrast, empathy programs aren’t even programs. They are business owners doing what’s right in the moment. There’s no card or app for your phone. You just know that when you take a situation to that business, they will find a way to make things right.
At The Alpine Shop, the owner virtually stepped into my ski boots and treated me the way he would want to be treated were it his problem. He could have sized me up as a guy in a lurch who had no options but to buy new skis at top dollar. Instead he participated in my agony delivered by the day’s events.
He may or may not have recognized me from past purchases, but he certainly recognized the high-end Volkl skis and pegged me accurately for a discerning skier and gear enthusiast. He took the long-range view that a good experience in his store today would forever stand out as a great one (all things considered), and I would return to shop there time and time again because they displayed true empathy.
Here’s the best part. Mark, The Alpine Shop’s 15+ year veteran ski technician and boot fitter makes shock-absorbing outrigger ski poles for amputee skiers. He asked if he could buy my old pair to be converted into outrigger poles for a client in California. What an amazing way to pay it forward!
This afternoon I will drop off the old pair as a gift to the shop so they can repurpose these by using just the tips and making another skier’s day, as they made mine yesterday.
Yep. The diagnosis is confirmed. Yesterday was a great day.
(Today’s Thoughts From the Coffee Table was written by a dear friend of mine. I have thought about inviting guest writers in from time to time, and seeing this pop up in my email from a friend who follows all of my posts made MY day! He doesn’t want credit for his words, but I hope he knows how much I value seeing my messages transcend beyond only my myopic sight.)