Good deeds—and good service—rarely go unnoticed

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

I had mentioned in my last couple of columns about my recent visit to Minnesota, where I spent a few days at a publisher’s conference.

One of the topics we had was about customer service. And what a good topic it was.

The guest speaker made a point about how vital it is that businesses think about providing good customer service, which is something most want to do but unfortunately all too many are not doing.

One statistic reported said that when a customer gets bad service at a business, they will tell many others about what bad service it was. Yet when a customer receives really excellent service, they will tell only nine to 12 people about it.

I ran into that kind of service this week when I got back in town. I was driving our second hand car that my oldest daughter donated back to the family after she graduated from college.

I had been noticing how badly it needed new windshield wipers, so I finally stopped at the NAPA Auto Parts store out Airline Highway in Reserve and went up to the counter, telling a tall fellow what I was looking for.

I have bought windshield wipers before, and installed them myself, but for some reason I have still had some problems getting them to fit just right and work perfectly. So I asked this man if he would take a quick look at the car, just to make sure I got the right blades.

Without a second of thought, he came right out from behind the counter and headed outside to measure the wipers, then came inside and went to find the right ones for me. When I was checking out, he asked if I could put them on OK, and I told him about my past problems trying to get them done right.

He immediately asked if I would like him to put them on, and of course, I was pleasantly surprised and said, “Sure.”

I later found out the NAPA employee was Don Fater, who is a lifelong local resident who has worked there for nearly five years. He went outside and popped the blades on so fast I could hardly believe it, and then yesterday it was raining again, so I got to see how perfectly they worked.

I called Don later in the week and asked if I could mention him here, just to pass along the story of great customer service, and he said he wouldn’t mind.

So thanks to guys like Don, who clearly was trying to go the extra mile to provide great customer service. As we were told at the seminar, that is the kind of service that makes me a loyal customer to that business. You can bet I will show favor to stopping there for now on when I need something from an auto parts store.

The art of great customer service is dying all too fast. Every one of us can relate plenty of stories about going to a business and having an employee there who seemed to hate their job and certainly did not want to do their best to help you.

Let’s see that change here in the River Parishes. It’s so easy to be friendly, and really try to help people. In the end, we all feel better about providing the service, or having received it.

I know I’ve also been talking a bit lately about our improved web site, found at

Make sure and check things out next week, when we debut our newly, redesigned site on Wednesday, July 2. I must warn you that there will be a slight transition time, and you may go on the site for a short time during the day and not see it updated yet. We have to coordinate the switch with our provider, but just as soon as it is up, we will have workers here beginning to load all the stories, information and pictures up.

We also have a pack of new advertisers on the site, so make sure to check it out on Wednesday.

An old man goes to the Wizard to asks him if he can remove a curse that he has been living with for the last 40 years.

The Wizard says, “Maybe, but you will have to tell me the exact words that were used to put the curse on you.”

The old man says without hesitation, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at