I recently went into a local party store to get supplies for my daughter’s 8th birthday party on Friday. She has been anxiously waiting for this day for weeks. We decided to do a bouncy house sleepover with five of her friends and she spent a long time walking up and down the aisles looking for the perfect theme. After debating over Minions vs Princesses, Superheroes vs. Hello Kitty, she settled on a puppy theme. She could hardly contain her excitement as we picked out party favors and plates, napkins and a tablecloth. The very last thing we picked out were the balloons – her favorite part.
Cate scanned the wall of balloons and picked out a puppy mylar balloon and six multi-colored balloons with a matching puppy anchor. They informed us it was a brand new balloon and we were the first ones to buy it! She and I waited near the counter as the young man who was working filled and arranged our balloons. We paid the extra $.15 for the extended life gas to be put into the balloons to keep them airborne longer and the extra $1 for a bag to keep them all together and easier to transport. I also asked for them to be less full so that they wouldn’t pop in the heat.
I overheard the young man telling his manager that he was supposed to be off work fifteen minutes earlier and as she scanned the busy store she begged him to stay for one more balloon arrangement so she wouldn’t have to try to finish them alone. He agreed, begrudgingly, and got to work. He first tied the balloon string of the puppy to her tail, so she was hanging upside down. The manager immediately noticed and gently reminded him to be more thoughtful of what he was doing. She fixed that for him and he finally got them pulled together leaving two balloons unclipped in the arrangement. He offered them to me and I reminded him that we needed the bag. He rolled his eyes and stuffed them into the bag before my eyes and grunted as I said thank you and left. As we were driving home, one popped – he’d ignored my request to make the balloons smaller and one popped in the heat.
When we arrived home, Cate excitedly took off for the entryway and grabbed the bag and untied the knot. Two balloons immediately vaulted up to the ceiling, 14 ft above our heads. The other balloons were also loose and heading skyward but I grabbed them before they could join the other balloons on the ceiling. They hadn’t been tied to the anchor. My fiancé, Adam had to attach duct tape to a broom to capture the balloons and I tied them to the anchor and got them arranged and clipped together.
What is the lesson?
The store was obviously busy and the clerk behind the counter was obviously unhappy that he was working overtime and that was reflected in his half-baked effort. What he failed to recognize or remember (if he was trained well) is that what matters to the customer should matter to YOU. We were customers at a party store shopping for an eight-year-old’s birthday party. A joyous occasion. One she’d spent a long time planning and looking forward to. I would venture to guess any patron entering a party store is there because they have something to celebrate. They are excited, they are joyful, the experience in the store should match. Today it was just a couple of balloons – easily remedied, not expensive by any means, but highly illustrative of my point.
While we often get mired down in the work and what we have on our shoulders, we can’t forget who the work is serving and how much that matters to the person on the receiving end of our efforts. What we see as an annoyance is something far greater in the eyes of the customer. Make what matters to them matter to you and it may not feel like such a burden.