Someone seemed to have declared it Stellar Customer Service Day. It was an extremely hot, busy midday in the shopping corners of New England and every sales associate or clerk I came across seemed to have recently come from a training class in “How to impress your customers.”

First there was the cashier at Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t paying much attention to the two customers ahead of me in the check-out line, until I saw the clerk motion to a nearby associate and whisper something, pointing towards the store’s flower stand.  The cashier continued to ring the purchases until the second associate came over with a bouquet of flowers and gave it to the cashier, who then gave it to the customer two persons ahead of me.

It turns out Customer 1 in front of me was a bride-to-be (very soon) and had mentioned that she was in this particular shopping area for her final fitting.  She was with her mother, Customer 2.  The cashier handed the bride the bouquet and said, “I recently got married myself. I know how stressful it is,” to which Bride Customer responded, astonished: “You’re going to make me cry.”

And she did.

Next, I inquired of that same cashier what had become of a particular favorite product of mine. I hadn’t seen it on the shelves lately.  He said he didn’t know but, without my asking, he called over a products manager and asked her to investigate. She not only made sure there wasn’t any on the shelf and I had just missed it, but she then contacted somebody in the company—quite quickly—to determine that the product had been discontinued.  While I hated missing out on one of my favorites, I rejoiced to know exactly what had happened and not to waste my time looking for it again.  Kudos to Trader Joes!

My next adventure was at Staples.  There I bought a case of copy paper, but realized I could not lift it off the shelf, into a cart and get it out to my car. Not without help. So, I mentioned this to the cashier while checking out with my other purchases. “Of course, we’ll get somebody to help you.  And, you’ve been in here before, haven’t you?”

You could have knocked me over with a feather! In all of New England, in my 17 years here, no Big Box employee had ever admitted to recognizing me as a repeat customer.  She summoned a young, strong clerk, who not only carted my paper out to the car for me, but chatted pleasantly with me all the while, despite the steaming tar of the parking lot amid the 91-degree temperatures.  Oh, and the clerk also let me get the discount on the paper, despite being without my frequent shopper card.  Kudos to Staples!

Do your employee training programs empower your staff to make their customers cry or to knock them over with feathers?  Perhaps those are good goals for your company.