Wall Street Steward Blog

A Lesson In Customer Service

Customer service is becoming a lost art these days.  Most companies either have more $business$ than they know what to do with and don’t care if they lose a sale, or are ignorant to the fact that their service is subpar.

BUT, every once in a while, a person/institution goes so far above and beyond the call of duty, that it makes the end user utter the word “wow.”

This entry explains my last “wow” experience. 

Recently, I was invited by a friend (we’ll call him “Jamie”) of mine on a road trip to attend the BMW Performance Driving School in Greenville, SC.  Needless to say, he did not have to ask me twice. 

The plan was to meet up in Charlotte, NC, at 7 am and ride together as a group (about 30 of us) down to Greenville, SC.  I was there at 6:45 am, and for a morning BEAR, that is not an easy thing to do.  A Starbucks triple white mocha took the morning edge off.

Upon arriving, I met one of the organizers of the event…he shall be known as “Marcus.”  We exchanged pleasantries, shook hands, and offered the normal “nice to meet you” cliché.  Marcus asked me if I would like something to eat while we waited for the others to arrive.  He then opened up the hatch of his SUV and proceeded to pull out item after item…

He had the following (and in fairness to him, he might have had more):

Dunkin Donuts (several dozen assorted)
Bagels and cream cheese from Panera Bread (two bags assorted)
2-3 cartons of fresh coffee (with all of the “fixins”)
A box of granola bars
Several choices of fresh fruit (bananas, etc…)
Orange Juice and Apple Juice

I am sure I am leaving something out, but suffice to say that he did everything short of putting on a cook’s hat and manning his own omelette station.  I was impressed.  This guy was goodWOW moment #1.

Then, our bus arrived.  We boarded the bus and started our trek to Greenville, SC.  Along the way, Marcus constantly asked each person if they needed anything else to eat or drink.  If they did, he himself got their requested item and served it to them.  This was not an easy thing to do since the bus was driving 65 mph on I-85. 

You ever tried to walk around on a subway when it is starting or stopping?  Now you have the picture.  He would literally hold onto the rails at the top of the bus, make his way to the cooler, grab the selected item, and then stumble back to deliver it.  WOW moment #2.

When we arrived in Greenville, SC and walked into the BMW Performance Driving School, I was stunned.  You know that smell that a brand new car has?  That is what the lobby smelled like, and for good reason…there was a brand new BMW 550 waiting on its new owner to pick it up!  It was beautiful – the paint was so shiny that I could see my reflection well enough to pick out my facial imperfections.  It had been detailed…and then detailed again.

The new car smell, along with the shine of the Clear-Coat got my adrenaline pumping.  WOW moment #3.

We were there for a business meeting, and as we waited for it to start, most of us fetched one last cup of coffee from the break area in the School.  I have seen nice coffee machines before, and I was assuming that this would be just another machine. 

It was not.

If you are reading this article, and have problems making decisions, then this coffee maker would be your kryptonite.  However, if you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur (as I do) and have no problem making a decision, this machine was your dream come true.

Size:  small, medium, large?                       
Type:  Blend, Roast, Dark, Cappucino, Espresso, Latte, Mocha, etc.
Other:  Normal, Extra Shot, etc.

I cannot recall all of the options, but let me say that this was the Ritz Carlton of coffee machines, and it was a sign of things to come at the BMW School.  WOW moment #4.

After our business meeting (that took 3 hours), three men walked into the room and introduced themselves one by one.  They were our three instructors, and the one thing that STRUCK me was that they were thrilled to be there.  All of their “intros” sounded something like this:

“My name is John, and I have been teaching here for 9 years.  I grew up in Georgia and started driving racecars at a young age.  I raced in the ARCA series (or a comparable series) for a number of years, and I won a few championships.  After that, I came to work here and I LOVE MY JOB.  To get to drive these cars every day like we do, we are truly blessed, and we are here to make sure you guys have a good time.  If there is ANYTHING you need, please let us know.  We are here for you, and if y’all have fun, we have achieved our goal.”

WOW moment #5.  Employees that actually love their job are refreshing.

We got to drive every car BMW makes…and we got to treat them all like rental cars. 

1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, Z4, X5, M3, M5, and the mother of them all….the 7 Series.

We got to race each one to its limit.  We felt how the vehicles handled, and learned the capabilities of each one separately.  The driving was indescribeable.  I have no idea what the cost of this school is (my friend Jamie treated me), but it is well worth it if you are into cars or racing.

BMW’s tagline is “The Ultimate Driving Machine” and I can see why.  These things are as sturdy as a tank, but they handle like sports cars.  The steering is tight, the brakes are amazing, and you can “feel the road.”  It is truly hard to explain…you would need to experience it for yourself.

WOW moment #6.  The cars.    

Once we wrapped up, we boarded the bus to head back home.  Most of us walked to the bus like a kid who had just met Santa Claus, said hi, and was told it was time to go home. 

“Johnny….meet Santa.”
“Uhhhh, ummm, HI SAAAN-TA!”
“Hello Johnny.  What would you like for Christmas this year?”

mom jerks Johnny by the arm “C’mon!  We have to get going NOW!!”

We were giddy, but disappointed that we had to return to reality. 

Once back on the bus, Marcus went back to work.  He started handing out beverages to each person.  I noticed that it seemed like everyone got something different.  A couple of guys got Diet Cokes, while others got bottled water.  Then, Marcus handed a few of them their beer of choice.  No kidding…he knew what types of beer each person had requested and started handing them out.  Budweiser, Michelob Light, Amstel, etc…..

One guy requested a blended wine, and Marcus opened the bottle, poured it for him, and then explained the origin of the wine….where it was created, and how…..

No joke.  He had HAND SELECTED a wine that met the criteria of the guest, and then he had studied it enough to speak about it intelligently.  Of course, he knew each person’s beverage of choice because he had previously asked them, but still, that did not cheapen it at all for me.

Marcus was no joke when it came to customer service, and as he spoke about his past work experience, I heard him tell someone that he had worked for a Ritz Carlton for a number of years. 

A-ha.  Then it made sense!  They are the Ritz Carlton of the….oh wait…nevermind.  They are…

Anyway, the day was amazing, and it taught me a lot.  I learned that when people are truly there to serve others, there is no higher customer service.  Marcus served us….the BMW guys served us….the cars served us….it was all about us, and that is the way it should be in the customer service game. 

Special THANKS to Jamie for inviting me on this amazing journey.  Not only was it a lot of fun, but it was also educational.  Also, I want to thank Marcus and the staff at the BMW Driving School. 

Now, if I can just save up enough money to buy one of those M3’s!

Creative Commons License photo credit: plien