Saturday, February 17, 2007

Customer Service, from the ground up

ORN: Thursday: 3 miles, 3/1, no pain.

Youngest son Matt and I spent a frigid Friday touring
Wheaton College in suburban Chicago. A really neat school, it will be interesting to see how his thinking develops as he makes his college decision.

With my part of the tour over by mid-afternoon Friday and Matt spending the night in a dorm with two guys he knows from home, I had some time on my hands. In a post last week, I asked
WADDLING about running stores near Wheaton. She pointed me to the Naperville Running Company. And, wow, what a cool place.

I called ahead and asked if someone was there who could talk to me intelligently about overpronation and motion-control shoes. He laughed and just told me to come on down; “We’re all runners here!” I changed into running shorts and sweats, made the 20 minute drive and walked in, two old pairs of shoes under my arm. John sat with me and we talked running for quite a while before we ever looked at shoes. He went over my old shoes with a vengeance, picking out detail on tread wear like a CSI agent. The shoes told a tale of overpronation more nuanced than I would ever have thought. From there we went through several pairs of shoes and sizes. Other customers came and went; I only asked John to not rush me and he was happy to let me be mellow.

I got well acquainted with their treadmill as I tried out one pair then another. John suggested I compare shoes at the same time, one on the right, one on the left. It was very instructive. He watched carefully, at floor level, to get a read on my pronation tendencies. As we worked, he observed a tendency for my right foot to overpronate more than my left. Could that explain my right ITB being injured while my left one is fine?

In all, I spent an hour in their store and walked out with a pair of Brooks Beast shoes. They felt terrific, clearly moved my foot roll away from my big toe and out to my middle toe.

Isn’t it amazing to get great customer service?
Michelle reported this week on her similarly positive experience buying new shoes. As a business person, it is fascinating to me to see how such customer service can change a commodity purchase (shoes) into a memorable experience (my shoes will work and promote health). For the stores’ sakes, though, how do they replicate this? How do they promote it? This is the type of stuff I think about while I run.

How will it work on the road? We’ll see. But, wow, what a great way to buy a shoe.



David said...

How do they promote it? You just did. Viral word of mouth marketing is the best kind there is (unless somebody's getting paid for it; and that's plain wrong).

Happy running!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great experience. I am sure the Beasts will serve you well.

Backofpack said...

The thing is, you've got to get the one person in the store who really knows their business. If you go in and get someone with less knowledge, then although the customer service can be great, it won't be what both you and I got. Running Store Eric and I actually talked about that while we tried shoes - he admitted to me that the others in his store would certainly have fit my foot properly, but wouldn't have the extended knowledge to take it that step farther - those nuances you mention. So when we talk about the store, we've got to mention that if there is a specific problem, more than just getting fitted, to ask for...Running Store Eric or John.

Sarah said...

What a great experience! I hope the beasts work out for you. :)

IronWaddler said...

I am so glad the store worked out and I wish you the best with your new shoe. They always been able to help me.

Wes said...

Sounds like an enlightening experience to me. I will follow your example in a couple o'more months. Let's hope it helps on your road ot recovery.

Frances said...

If you live near Naperville TMJ would be easily treated by their medical experts so if you experience any kind of pain at all and suspect that it's TMJ, you ought to consult with one of their doctors as early as you can.