This is the 7th of a 10-part series on Customer Leadership.
In this LEADERSHIP MINTS series, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Steelcase Inc. (founded March 16, 1912) and salute their Customer Leaders (a.k.a employees). Those highly motivated Customer Leaders have consistently helped the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company reign as the office-furniture industry leader for most of its 100 years in business.
By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an example of a Customer Leader going off the beaten path to serve his customer.
The padlocked gate on a dirt road 50 miles from the nearest city didn’t stop him. Neither did the steep ravine as he drove his personal van down, down and down.
Nor did the vastness of the 4,000 acres of a wilderness that engulfed him deep in the bowels of California’s Big Sur National Reserve. Or the three-hour drive snaking south along the Pacific Ocean just to reach this remote Steelcase customer.
How remote? The nearest neighbor to the Steelcase customer’s office was at least a mile away and the nearest second neighbor was at least three miles. But Ken was up for challenge. Ken was on a mission— a mission to personally deliver a 3200 line Steelcase desk to a customer whose place of business was so remote that conventional trucks could’t deliver the furniture.
The Steelcase sales representative solved the problem. Ken pulled the seats out of his family’s van. Then he spent a full day on a 360-mile round trip snaking along Pacific Ocean on a winding seacoast road, then sliding down a ravine, then hand carrying the desk across a bridge to complete the delivery.
Ken vowed to complete the sale by personally delivering the desk. The customer was part of a multi-million account with the University of California.
The office is so remote that Ken had to get some help to carry the desk some 40 yards over a bridge that was too small for his van. But finally Ken crossed that bridge and surprised and delighted his customer–the Wilderness Reserve Manager in the Big Sur– with his new Steelcase desk.
Ken’s Mantra: Have Desk
Will Deliver Anywhere, Anytime, Anyhow
Ken made history in delivery the desk. Not only was it the most remote customer Ken ever visited in 28 years, it was also the first time the satellite office of the University of California ever had any heavy equipment delivered. Their washing machine had to be picked up. So did their hot water heater. No vendor wanted to negotiate the ravine or face the wilderness. Until Ken. His Have-Desk-Will-Deliver anywhere, anytime, anyhow fortitude cemented the sale and the relationship with the customer.
Next: Customer Leadership Mint #8: Tuning Up
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You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Relationship Building:
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