Last week, an email from a customer contained a ransom demand — $1 million in unmarked bills — for the safe return of Mike Landers, one of our account managers. No, Mike had not been kidnapped. He had just delivered one of the most inspiring examples of customer service I’ve witnessed in twenty years in this industry; the customer’s ransom note was meant to draw our attention to Mike’s extraordinary effort.
Our customer, located in a city nearly three hours flying time from Ottawa, had designed an annual report for an organization. Unfortunately, delays crept into the project. On the day before the organization needed to distribute copies of its annual report at a shareholders meeting, the reports were still in production and only 200 were in a finished state.
Mike had been deeply involved in the project from the beginning and understood the time crunch. Sending 200 reports by air cargo that evening would solve the problem. But the evening flight was cancelled and the flight next morning had become fully booked.
In a replay of John Candy’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Mike sprang into action. He booked an early morning flight out of Toronto, took a short nap, picked up the 200 copies from the plant and drove overnight to Toronto, arriving in time for an early-morning, four-hour flight. A little jet-lagged, he delivered the annual reports with hours to spare. By any measure, his effort was extraordinary.
I’ve worked with Mike for nearly twenty years and have almost grown accustomed to his dedication and inventiveness. But then he takes a cliché — go the extra mile for your customer — and turns it into reality. Well done, Mike. By the way, if the ransom demand had been real, we would have passed the hat to get you back.