It’s not every day that you walk into a Post Office and tell the guy behind the counter that you are not there to buy stamps, but you would like to buy 1600 kids books from him. This is the story of Stuart from Australia Post.
I first went into the post office a couple of weeks back to simply look at the shelves to see what was available and decided that, after all our hunting for the perfect books to give to 100 hospitals that this was it ! I lined up in that all too familiar post office line that always seems to go out the door (why is that ? – that is a service/operations question for another conversation I think) and 10 minutes later arrived at the counter in front of Stuart.
“Hi Stuart, I’m Jenny and I am hoping to chat to you about buying a few books”. Stuart in his happy, willing tone said “of course – what would you like”. I informed him that I was looking at buying 1600 books and a heap of packaging and postage as well. This was a sale that was worth thousands of dollars to the local post office and Stuart must have worked that out in his head pretty quickly as he then stepped out from behind the counter to come out and have a chat to me with no barriers like counters or tills. From that point on, Stuart was focused on my needs. Stuart was not a manager, he was a postal service officer, but for some reason, he seemed to take ownership of this with the skills of a manager. I knew that Stuart was going to really help me from this point onwards. I was looking forward to dealing with Stuart and secretly hoped that I did not get tipped to a manager instead.
I planned to go back once or twice more before sealing the deal. I just had to confirm this spend with the key stakeholders in the initiative. A week later, I went back into the post office expecting that Stuart would have been moved from the job and the manager of the business would take over the sale. I was so pleased to see that when I went to the counter, Stuart was called to meet me “Stuart, that lady for all those books is here to see you”. This was the manager calling for Stuart. She had generously and rightly empowered Stuart to carry out the sale to its end. So many times I witness a manager taking over from an employee thinking that they can do a better job. An employee never learns how to do a great job unless they are empowered to do so. I could tell that the manager had coached him a little by the questions that he came back to me with and that was great! Stuart was on a roll. He organized the order to a tee and promised to call me when it was ready so I could come in and pay! I got the call as promised and went down to see him with credit card in hand. What I had also done was put that special touch to the transaction, I had made a plate of Anzac biscuits for his team.
After the transaction was complete, Stuart’s manager came out to thank us and of course, I spoke so highly of the efforts that Stuart had made in sealing the deal. The manager then offered to personally deliver the books to the venue where we will pack them which I of course accepted. We had made Stuart’s day and he had made ours….. I don’t know what was more rewarding for him; knowing he played some part in giving books to hospitals; making such a big transaction; or being the person whose customer brought him a plate of Anzacs.
The moral of this is that in everything that you do, try and make someone else’s day and you will walk away with a smile on your own face every single time. Empower your staff to be great and they will come through with greatness !
PS: When it is time to send the books, the only person I want to deal with is Stuart !