Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beyond customer service

My good friend Mary Dalmau at Melbourne’s Readers Feast bookshop is known for many things, among them her love of a good detective story and a ferocious commitment to customer service. Recently, she got to combine the two, after a lost wallet was found in the store late one afternoon. Let’s let Mary tell the story: ‘I checked the wallet and found it belonged to a David D Franks of Richmond, Virginia USA. So began the detective's hunt. I rang the major hotels to see if he was registered as a guest, but no. […] I rang American Express to see if they could give me a contact number but the Australian girl rang through to an American counterpart who was particularly unhelpful by cancelling the poor man's card! I rang the local police station only to be told to come down and fill in a report. […] By this time, it was about 6.15 and I asked James if he had served many American tourists today and he said that he had helped some women who had been on a cruise ship. So, next stop was the Port of Melbourne Authority—all automated! So, I went online and found that a ship had docked today belonging to the same shipping line as the name on the card in Mr. Franks' wallet and that it was leaving tomorrow. Nothing for it, I decided, but to go down to Station Pier adjacent to St. Kilda and see what I could find out. The classic scenario then of security on the gates only letting passengers through to the ship. I explained that I didn't even know if this man was a passenger but I wanted access to the ship to find out, or for them to contact the ship for me. Cut a long story a bit shorter, Dave (my new mate on duty at the Port) sorted it and established that indeed M. Franks was on the ship and word was getting to him to come to the gate to meet me. That alone took twenty minutes, but along came the fellow. Well, we had the best chat. He is Professor David Franks of Virginia who simply could not believe the effort I had gone to.’

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