Have You Planned for Heroic Acts of Kindness?

Picture a dad on a Saturday morning toting a bike with a broken chain and a disappointed kid. Dad’s already been to the hardware store, with no luck. Two stops later, exasperated and increasingly frustrated, both father and son find their way to Zane’s. Within minutes they find out what will fix the chain: a twenty-five cent master link. The salesman at Zane’s hands it over, with a firm “No charge.” Zane’s has decided to give these parts away. Anything that costs a buck or under, they give to any customer who needs it. Though small in price, these parts are usually attached to fixing a frustrating experience for the customer.

Zane’s wants to become the life line for their customer throughout his or her bike ownership. And that sometimes means throwing in a bike part (especially at frustrating moments). Says Chris Zane: “I could either charge the guy one buck or two bucks for the part or give it to him. So I give the part away, along with an extra one.”

Chris Zane is astute enough to know that in these moments an emotional bond to his store is created. And this will translate into a prosperous customer relationship. Zane’s works to deliver at least seven “wow” moments for each customer. They believe that seven powerful interactions prove to customers that Zane’s is consistently good to them, and the best (and only) place to go for anything regarding bicycles.

Why does Zane’s do this? Because it’s the right thing to do and they have a track record of success with these acts of kindness. Zane’s “pays it forward” consistently with their customers, and it grows their business.

The memories customers have of that point in time when they were stressed and Zane’s came through, with no strings attached, pulls them back. And once a customer walks back into Zane’s, he or she usually buys. Each Zane’s customer spends an average of $12,500 with the company. And Zane’s experiences unheard of 43% margins. So you do the math: wouldn’t you spend $1 to make an impression that will earn a customer worth $12,500?

Consider if those nickel, dime, and dollar charges are costing you more than you’re charging in lost goodwill and future customers.

  • How many “wow” impressions do you encourage your people to deliver in the course of a day, a month, or a year to your customers?
  • Is everyone ready to go the extra mile?
  • Do they have permission?
  • Do you celebrate their heroism every day?


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