One and done

“First call resolution” is what they called it in a call center I supported. The core concept is that when you are contacted by a customer with a need or an issue, service providers work to meet all the customers needs during their first contact.

Our local bike shop could certainly take a lesson from that. (Well, it used to be our local bike shop, but they were recently bought out by a major bike brand from Wisconsin.)

My wife’s bike needed a tune up, so we brought the bike into the shop. (A whole other story that will be coming soon.) When it was time to pick up the bike, my wife and I walked over to the shop. I brought my bike along so we could ride home together.

With Covid precautions in place at the shop, I waited for my wife out in the parking lot while she went in to pick up her bike. Luckily, it was a lovely warm Spring day.

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No thanks, I am just buying

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 1/9/2016

Version 2

I was on the road for the company I worked for at the time and after several flight delays had finally landed in Atlanta. If all went well, I had just enough time to get to my appointment with the Atlanta store manager.

As I was stepping off the plane, I hit my arm against a cabinet near the plane’s doorway popping my watch off my wrist. The watch skidded across the floor and fell neatly between the plane and the gangway twenty feet to the tarmac below. In the post 9-11 era, I did not feel it would be worth the time and effort to try to get the inexpensive watch back.

Picking up my luggage and my rental car I quickly headed towards my appointment. Feeling lost without my watch, I checked the dashboard clock and calculated I had just enough time to buy a new watch at the store before my 5 o’clock meeting. I had actually been eyeing a specific watch for sometime.

Once in the store, I headed quickly towards the watch fixture grabbing a sales specialist along the way explaining that I was in a big hurry and asked if they could help me with watches. I once again I told him that my immediate need was speed.

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Happy Birthday, Colin Fletcher!

Photo: John Sexton / ALDHA

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Colin Fletcher. Those outdoors people that came of age in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s probably came across some of his writings. The most notable of these was the how-to book, The Complete Walker.

I received this book as a Christmas present when I was 12 years old and it changed my life. I was in the Boy Scouts but only knew about backpacking very vaguely. This book opened a whole new world to me.

Two other books that deeply influenced me were The Appalachian Trail by Ronald Fisher and National Geographic and Home in Your Pack by Bradford Angier.

Stymied

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 1/21/2016

Version 2

As stores begin to make room for their summer assortment, they discount their winter outerwear making January a great time to buy.  I decided to take advantage of this and headed to the mall to find my next winter jacket. (It did not hurt that holiday weekend sales events were in full swing.)

Walking towards the storefront of one of my favorite brands, I saw signs proclaiming “EVERYTHING UP TO 60% OFF!” The signs only served to feed my expectations as I entered the store and walked past a salesman posted just inside the front door.  It was poor form of him to not greet me as I passed since he was not busy with anything. Continuing further into the store, I began checking out a rack of men’s winter jackets. The clerk finally called out a friendly greeting.

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A nice finish

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 8/8/2016

I stopped at the local Outlet Mall the other day to do some shopping and some observation.  It was a warm and sunny day and may of the stores had their doors open to deal with the heat.

Being a fan of the brand and a citizen of the PNW, I stopped by the Columbia Sportswear Outlet where they had a great sale going on.  I quickly found several items that I was shopping for so I headed to the registers where there were a number of waiting cashiers.

“I can help you right here,” came a greeting from the nearest cashier.

During the transaction, I noticed that a name tag affixed to his jacket.  I thought it odd with the stores so warm that a cashier would be wearing outerwear.  So, I asked him if he was warm.

“No, actually I am quite comfortable,” he replied as he handed me my change.  I thought that would be the end of our conversation but he continued apparently excited to talk about the jacket. “The jacket is made of Omni-Shield™ and it is really comfortable,” he said as he carefully folded and bagged my purchases.

Nice finish.

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The poor backpack

Not the poor backpack
Not the poor backpack

The post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 9/8/2016

There it sat, right in the middle of the aisle, the poor backpack. It had fallen from an overstocked fixture and now it sat in the middle of the main aisle circling the store. I am not sure how long it had been there when I spotted it.

Being small, the pack did not block traffic and was easy enough to walk around or step over. I figured that if it was still on the floor when I got to it, I would put it back on the fixture.

As I stood watching, I noticed two employees walking up the aisle towards the backpack. Ah, I thought, I won’t have to pick up the pack, surely one of these two employees will.  I was wrong.  In fact, one actually stepped over the pack and continued up the aisle.

I was a bit dumbfounded.  How could these employees step over product that was in middle of the aisle posing a tripping hazard? The store was not very busy and there was plenty of staff visible throughout the store.  Why had no one picked up the pack?

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I sent him away

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 4/20/2017

He was timid, reserved and soft-spoken.  We have all run across this type of customer before.  It’s challenging to get them to warm up to you, they can be slow to offer information and they can even be hard to hear.

I greeted him and asked him what brought him into the store today.  A rather defensive “I just came in to look” was his response.  So I told him to look around and that I would check back in a few minutes if he ran across any questions and then I set off to help others who had just entered the store.

As I circled back to him after a few minutes, it was clear to me that he that he truly was looking for something specific as he studied the hang tags and pulled garments off racks to look at. It seems that he had needed some time to decompress and check things out on his own terms when he first entered our store.  I re-approached him.

“Looks like you have run across some questions, how can I help?”

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The Ledge and Yeti’s Lair

Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 4/28/2017

One of the joys of a good road trip is getting well away from the interstates and onto the blue highways of William Least-Heat Moon fame. It is on just such roads that my wife and I found ourselves on a recent trip to Death Valley.

Klamath Grill (highly recommended for breakfast or lunch)
Klamath Grill (highly recommended for breakfast or lunch)

As we drove through southern Oregon, the clock was approaching lunchtime and we were beginning to feel a bit hungry when we heard a radio ad for the Klamath Grill on Main Street in Klamath Falls.  The ad made it sound like a great local place to stop for lunch. We were not disappointed.

This breakfast and lunch spot serves up a nice variety of diner favorites along with some chef specialities such as Swedish Pancakes, Dutch Babies and a Cranberry Club Sandwich.

Waiting for my Huevos con Chorizo to arrive, I picked up a table topper to read.  Anyone who has eaten at a small town diner might recognize these simple booklets with local history, bad jokes, trivia and area advertisements to read while waiting for your food.

As I was reading through the booklet, I ran across a reference to the “only solar-powered outdoor store in the US”, The Ledge.  Checking my phone, I discovered the store was only several blocks from the diner. So we decided we would walk over to the store and take a look around before heading on to Tule Lake and Susanville.

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