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Inward vs Outward Mindset for Customer Service

By Joey Havens

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I hope you caught my two previous blogs on disruption and unseen pain. On this day of very preventable disruption & self-inflicted pain, I also got to experience a third great life lesson in customer service mindset and experience. You may recall my boat trailer tire blowout and subsequent eye injury happened late on a Friday afternoon. That Saturday morning, I was up early and looking for a tire service center where I could get three new tires for my boat trailer. This was urgent since I had PTO planned for the following week to fish some more and I knew it would include a road trip or two.

So after a cup of coffee, I headed out to my favorite, reliable tire service center. Unfortunately, they did not have the size trailer tires I needed in stock or at their local warehouse. The manager was very helpful and called to confirm that he could have the tires there Monday morning and would have them installed and ready to go by noon.

Although that was a good option—it wasn’t great. I shared with him that I really needed to try and get it done today. And that’s when it happened—an outward mindset on customer service kicked in. Without prompting from me, he said, “Let me call a couple of other tire centers to see if we can get it done today.” Wow! I already know why I trust this company and always come back, but now, to meet my needs he was willing to check with his competitors.

On his second call, he found the tires and put me on the phone with his competitor. She confirmed they had the tires in the local warehouse and could have them here at 10:30 and would have me on the road by noon. I graciously thanked the manager, complimented him on his customer service, confirmed I would be back the next time I needed service and headed out to run some errands.

Ten minutes later my phone rang. The competitor called to inform me they are taking inventory today and can’t get the tires until Monday. She was so nice in her delivery of this totally inward mindset of customer service—focused on them and their processes rather than me, the customer. I sought some clarity from her before hanging up the phone.

“So please help me understand. You have me wanting to buy three tires and a second customer who is replacing four tires on his vehicle (she had mentioned in our first conversation that they were already making a trip to the local warehouse to pick up his tires for a 10:30 install). That’s seven new tire sales which aren’t going to happen because you are taking inventory?” “That’s right,” she replied. I asked again to confirm, “They don’t have a process to track tires sold during the inventory?” “Guess not. Do you want me to have them Monday for you?” “No, thank you,” I replied.

I knew of one more tire center, so I called with my fingers crossed. As I spoke to the manager, he assured me that he had 2 of the 3 tires and could have the 3rd tire on Monday. My next question was could he put the tires on with the boat on the trailer? “Absolutely!” he said. When I arrived, he greeted me and showed me the tires. After I backed the trailer in a bay in the service center, lunchtime hit and a couple of the service men went to lunch. The manager put on some gloves and said, “Don’t worry, we will have this knocked out in no time.”

He did and we made the arrangements to pick up the spare by noon on Monday. About 40 minutes after I left, my phone rang. “Hey Mr. Havens, I have your spare ready. We had an unexpected delivery coming and I asked them to deliver your tire today, too. We got it about 15 minutes ago and I have it mounted on your spare and ready if you want to pick it up this afternoon. We close at 5:00.”

“Awesome! I will be by there to pick it up!” About an hour later, as I was turning into the parking lot of the service center, the manager came out rolling my new spare. I rolled down the window and he said, “Pop open the back and I will drop your tire in.”

I said, “Wow! That’s service!” He laughed and said, “I saw you turn off the interstate and make the turn in here.” What a difference an outward mindset for customer service makes for a great customer experience. 

But now, I have a dilemma. I have my favorite, reliable tire center and my new star performer. Maybe it’s a great problem to have.

What would our clients say about our client service models? Weighted more on inward focus where it’s about our processes or weighted towards their needs? What did our last proposal talk the most about—our quality and process or their business? 

With collaboration on these questions, we can ensure we keep an outward mindset and deliver a WOW client experience!