Max as Master ChiefAs I mentioned previously, our taller son decided on dressing as Master Chief from Halo for Halloween, with his younger brother adopting the persona of a Pokemon Ranger. And, as luck would have it, both costumes were made from scratch, as neither are mass produced.

So we completed our first (and last ;) Pepakura model, this of the Master Chief's spartan helmet. All it took was sixteen sheets of card stock, white glue, a roll of Scotch tape and a week's worth of after-the-kids-go-to-bed patience.  And don't forget the epoxy resin with fiberglass, camo spray paint, foam inserts and electrical tape.  

CJ is a Pokemon Ranger, not Michael Flatley ;)As for Pokemon Rangers? Let's just say if my wife never sees a sewing machine ever again it will be too soon.  That and the hot glue gun, fabric tape and the late nights searching for just the right images in the Internet. 

What does this have to do with customer satisfaction?

Everything.

I found that for every piece of research done at the hardware store, craft shop and fabric supply, we found nothing but helpful staff ready to assist us with ideas, guidance and how-to's.  On the web we found plenty of examples and detailed step-by-steps written by people eager to answer our questions, either with suggestion on how to scale Master Chief's helmet to a fourth grader's mop top or the best hi-res Pokemon Ranger images. 

And all this at a time when stores are brimming with people searching for many of the same things: help, direction and assistance.  It amazes me that the customer service staff at the craft stores are able to keep from shutting down and locking the store when the storm of last-minute shoppers come in search of that perfect accessory or pattern for a full on Valkyrie costume. They've heard the same question asked a thousand times, and generally answer it each time with a smile, often taking you by the hand to the exact place in the store where you'll find the tube of Styrofoam glue you have been searching for since September.

Of course, as a result of all the effort we put into these projects, we met and exceeded the needs of our core customers: our kids.

It strikes me that online and telephone customer service agents go through much of the same thing: answering the same questions, taking the same information and dispatching the same answers each and every day.  Sometimes the mere action of having someone to walk through the steps helps to solve the problem.  And just like the store staff at our local plastics speciality store, they love it when a tough problem comes in the door: something to dig into and tackle a problem that hasn't been seen previously, or solve a problem that's been plaguing a customer for far too long.  As I work with our customer service representatives and escalation engineers, I'm reminded of this and happy to see the passion in their interest to solve customer issues... er, I mean problems. 

And speaking of customer satisfaction, let me also say this: knowing your customer and meeting their expectations is key to winning their hearts and minds.  In the case of Hallowe'en, this includes knowing just where to take your kids to maximize the candy benefit and allure of visiting dad's office... what kid doesn't like tagging along to where your parent's work?  This evening, the kids not only had the chance to trick or treat with their friends in the neighbourhood after dinner, they had the chance to visit me at the end of the day and hop from office to office gathering candy as so many squirrels gathering nuts.

And the employees in our buildings got a kick out of it as well: taking pictures, decorating offices, donning costumes and laying our candy for the munchkins roaming the hallways.

Happy Hallowe'en.

Tags: Microsoft, Customer Service, Customer Support.

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