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a customer service case study

A Customer Service Case Study


I own a pair of Foster Grant ‘Microview’ reading glasses.  They a cleverly designed in that they fold at the bridge and the arms are telescopic, so when I’m not wearing them they are about the size of a matchbox.

Sadly I lost the little hard shell case that keeps them protected in my pocket or bag.


So I went to Foster Grant’s website to see if I could replace just the case.  On the homepage was a link to “contact us”. 


On the contact us page was a phone number.


When I dialled the number, the phone was straightaway answered by a human, a polite and helpful young chap called Tom.


I explained my dilemma and tom told me that they glasses are manufactured overseas and arrive in the cases, so he couldn’t sell me a case on its own BUT what he could do was to pop over to the warehouse and see if there was a loose case available. He would let me know either way but he couldn’t at this stage promise that he’d be able to get me a replacement case.

He took my landline and mobile numbers and promised to call me back.


Less than an hour later the landline rang.  I didn’t get to it in time but a moment after it had stopped ringing my mobile rang.


It was Tom.  He’d found a spare case.

I asked if I could therefore buy it.

“No, sir, no need.  It is a bit faded so I’d be happy to send it to you for nothing” Tom said.

I asked if he was sure that this was OK, didn’t he need to ask his manager.  No, he told me, he was able to make this decision without higher authority.

He took my name and address and I’m awaiting the case’s arrival by post imminently.


What lessons can we learn from this about customer service?

1. Foster Grant made their telephone number publicly available; getting hold of them was as easy at it could have possibly been

2. They didn’t have an automated answering service; but a real live, thinking human being as their first line of support

3. The agent, Tom, was clear about what he could do but also made sure that he didn’t raise any expectations that he would be unable to fulfil. He was honest, straightforward and polite about it and he was “empowered” to make decision that would solve my problem.

4. He kept his promise to contact me, even though I didn’t answer his first call he persisted, he went the extra mile.

5. I love the glasses and now I love the company; I’ll sing their praises in this little report and I’ll tell everyone I know who wants to buy a pair of reading glasses to go to Foster Grant.

6. What has this cost Foster Grant? A “waste” product hat would have otherwise ended up in the bin, a Jiffy-bag and the postage.


Rus Slater


Last week I ran a meeting for the community and it was an outstanding success:

"Thanks to all your hard work and your  introduction and  guidance  at the meeting, we  now  have the  working structure that was needed without the usual navel gazing and ego airing such meetings can generate"

So I thought I'd share some of the "wisdom" that guided it:


A Simple Seven Point Tool To Make Your Meetings More Effective And Save You From Wasting A Lot Of Time



tand up, don’t sit down; this tends to focus people’s minds on getting to the point more quickly than if they are all sitting around in comfortable chairs, with coffee and doughnuts.







wo minute challenge: No one is allowed to speak for more than two minutes without giving others a chance to comment, question, challenge or take the floor.







genda: have a proper agenda which sets out the outcome of the whole meeting, subsidiary items and their outcomes and the amount of time to be allocated to each item. Send it out in advance. Don’t have ‘Any Other Business’ is on the agenda or not!







o going off-topic; as the chair, you must stop any off-topic discussions, be they in plenary (everyone all together) or between individual members







istractions and interruptions are not allowed; no one is to take a quick phone call, no visitors, no texting, no “popping out to deal with this”.  Stick to the matters on the agenda, no multi-tasking.





nless you need to be here, be elsewhere.  Most meetings have at least one person who has no need to be there; they contribute nothing and have no need to hear other peoples’ input. If you are the chair allow people to opt-out if it is justifiable.







ush off as soon as you have completed the agenda and achieved the goal of the meeting.  Don’t hang around, even if you travelled for two hours for a forty minute meeting.  Extending the meeting just to “make it seem worthwhile” is probably just wasting time. This includes the planning of the agenda; if it can be done in 10 minutes, don’t schedule an hour!





Yesterday was the Fleet half marathon and it is my wont on this day each year to spend the day gardening and watch the runners go past my house. We live at the point where the faster runners reach after about 55 minutes.

Near the end of the long trail of sweating bodies were two runners who had fallen in pace to a very, very slow jog.  As they drew past me one said to the other,

"God it's so hot.....I don't know how anyone can run in this!"

At which point another runner, dressed head to toe as a griffin with a massive plastic head on top, came zooming past them.  He was carrying a heavy bucket full of small change.

"Well done, ladies!" He called to them in encouragement, "Not far to go now".  And with that he shot off at a fast lope, head bouncing in the sunlight and the bucket swinging from his right hand.

The two women were silent.  Their pace remained exactly as before.

I couldn't help wondering whether his physical appearance at that particular time was motivating or crushing.... 

Management of leavers: A little case study

You are a director of a small organisation in the not-for-profit sector.

A young member of staff has been with you for two and a half years.  He started as a student doing his BA in exactly the subject your small organisation exists to promote.

He got his BA (at a First) and stayed with you part time whilst he did his MA, still in the highly relevant subject.

He got his MA (at Distinction Level) and converted to a full time role with you.

He has initiated and delivered a series of innovative new offerings for your organisation, and is much appreciated by your customers.

However, you never promote him or give him any kudos.  So he resigns as he has found another role with a different, non competing organisation.

Your PA arranges an exit interview to take place on his final day.

You don't turn up for it, but neither do you inform him or your PA that you aren't going to make it.

Later that afternoon his leaving "do" is taking place in the site restaurant.  You go in for your lunch but, though you sit at the next table you say nothing to him.  You ignore him completely.

He leaves.

Your PA rearranges the exit interview a week later.

The young man walks to your site and arrives on time for the meeting.  You are off site and five minutes before the interview is due to begin you phone your PA to cancel.

He leaves having wasted most of his morning. 



1. How professional do you as a manager appear to be to him and the people who still work for you?

2. What image do you expect him to paint to his friends and acquaintances about you and the organisation you manage?

3. What effect on future recruitment do you think it might have if I actually named you and the organisation in this blog?


This is not a fictitious case study~it happened less than three months ago! 


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