Safelite Autoglass Technician Demonstrates Practical Wisdom

I was truly inspired by this story from Safelite AutoGlass.

A Safelite technician in Portland, OR was informed that he was going to have a deaf customer on his route the next day. In order to keep the company’s commitment to explaining the installation process, the post-installation safety precautions, and the Safelite warranty to all customers, the technician went out of his way in a very creative fashion. When he got home at night, he called a good friend of his in Vancouver, Washington—just over the river from Portland—who knew sign language. The technician went to his friend’s house and spoke through the installation process and all of the other details. He video recorded his friend signing the entire presentation and then showed it to the deaf customer the next day.

Barry Schwartz, the author of the seminal book The Paradox of Choice, has a great TED talk called Our Loss of Wisdom. In it he discusses what Aritstotle called “practical wisdom,” the combination of moral will and moral skill. The Safelite technician demonstrated practical wisdom by combining the moral will to do what was right for the deaf customer and the moral skill to figure out what “doing right” means.

This type of behavior doesn’t happen enough; our research shows that only 30% of U.S. employees demonstrate practical wisdom. But it’s no surprise that it occurred at Safelite, one of Temkin Group’s 2012 Customer Experience Excellence Award winners. Safelite’s CEO Tom Feeney set a goal in 2008 of doubling the company’s business in four years by 1) putting Safelite’s people first by focusing on talent development and employee engagement and 2) going above and beyond to delight every customer. The strategy succeeded.

The bottom line: Create an environment that fosters practical wisdom.

Epilogue: The technician I discuss above, whose name is Kanyon, left a comment on this post. He was responding to a question about why he recorded the video instead of just writing it all down. Here’s a portion of his response (look at the comments to see it all):

“I could have written everything thing down for my customer. Have you ever seen someone after you spoke to them in their native language? If not try it sometime just learn a little bit that person becomes more relax their walls drop a little and they feel more comfortable. Jeff for me customer service is more then doing a good job. Customer service for me is allowing that person to feel comfortable and safe. Then they can trust me and when I am working on their car/truck they want to trust me.”

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

8 Responses to Safelite Autoglass Technician Demonstrates Practical Wisdom

  1. Jeff Toister says:

    This is an amazing story of focusing on the customer and truly going the extra mile.

    But, I must admit I’m scratching my head about something that seems to defy the practical wisdom part. Why didn’t the employee simply provide a written explanation? Perhaps there’s something else I’m missing.

  2. Kanyon says:

    Very good question Jeff. Yes I could have written everything thing down for my customer. Have you ever seen someone after you spoke to them in their native language? If not try it sometime just learn a little bit that person becomes more relax their walls drop a little and they feel more comfortable. Jeff for me customer service is more then doing a good job. Customer service for me is allowing that person to feel comfortable and safe. Then they can trust me and when I am working on their car/truck they want to trust me. So yes I could have written it down but I would have missed out on that joy I seen in my customer face as he was watching that video I would have missed out on watching the walls drop and watch the trust begin to grow. I hope that I answered your question Jeff and I would like to say thank you for all who had read this story and all the feed back. thank you to my dear friend who helped me.

  3. Patricia says:

    I think this is fantastic! As someone who also works for a Safelite location I’m going to share this story immediately with my technicians!! Great job!

  4. Wow, what amazing customer service. And I completely agree about walls being let down if you speak to someone in their language.

  5. Chris Upton says:

    Very beautiful and inspirational story Kanyon. Hearing stories like this motivate me as a tech to take pride in what we do. I will share this story with our group in Wichita and hope it causes the same motivation it has given me.

  6. Anthony Lockwood says:

    Truly inspirational! Thank you. In one word GENIUS.

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