Oswald Letter

‘Tis the season to do right by your employees and customers

Tis Seasonby Dan Oswald

Have you ever thought about what employees really want from a company and a manager? What is it that really makes employees feel satisfied in their work? Among other things, having a manager who cares about them as people is part of being happy at work. So when I heard about Liberty Bottleworks, I figured it must have a pretty satisfied workforce. Here’s the story.

It seems that over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the folks at Liberty had a customer who was upset about the lack of responsiveness from the company. It seems she wanted to speak with someone on Saturday when the company was closed. The customer became agitated and sent some inflammatory and harassing e-mails to Liberty employees and posted a negative rant on Facebook. When employees did return her calls in an attempt to rectify the situation, she hung up.

That’s when Liberty COO Ryan Clark swung into action. Not able to reach the customer by phone, he responded directly to her negative post on Facebook with a polite but pointed response. In the response, he told the customer that his employees were home spending the holiday weekend with their families and that the company embraces a “family first, product second” philosophy. He went on to say that he would gladly give the customer her money back but that he wasn’t sorry the employees were home enjoying the holidays with their families. He even went so far as to provide his personal cell phone number so she could reach him directly.

Clark’s response has gone viral, and the support for his position has been overwhelmingly positive. Liberty has been swamped with traffic to its website and calls to the company—so much so that it has had to apologize for not being able to keep up with all the orders that resulted from one manager doing the right thing by his employees!

Don’t you wish every good deed was rewarded like that? It seems to me that Liberty Bottleworks and Ryan Clark have two things figured out. First, family is more important than work. Period. Second, sometimes customers are WRONG. And sticking up for your employees when they are can get you a lot of points with employees and your other customers.

And what is it that every manager wants? To create a sense of teamwork among employees? To overwhelmingly exceed customers’ expectations? Maybe find innovative ways to garner an incredible amount of positive publicity for the company? And what about having a great time doing all of it? Well, that’s exactly what happened when Canadian airline WestJet decided to spread some holiday cheer.

If you haven’t seen the video of what WestJet employees did, then I encourage you to take a look. You might be as amazed at what they did as I was. You see, the people at WestJet found an innovative way to learn what some of their customers had on their list for Santa and then fulfilled those wishes. In the process, not only did they dazzle their customers and spread some goodwill, but they also seemed to have a blast in the process. What a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season! All of us should be so lucky to work for a company that so clearly “gets it.” And when you watch the video, tell me it isn’t clear that it’s better to give than to receive.

Sometimes something as simple as doing the right thing by defending a couple of employees who are taking unwarranted abuse from a customer can gain a manager the loyalty of employees and customers alike. And other times, a more elaborate plan might be necessary to get the same result. These two holiday stories demonstrate the impact a manager and a company can have on the lives of the people who work there and the customers with whom they do business. In the end, isn’t it about the lives that we touch every day? Will you be remembered for the good you did today?