How We Treat our Customers (and Flew Halfway Around the World to Prove It)

By Jourdan Strain , November 20, 2015
How We Treat our Customers (and Flew Halfway Around the World to Prove It)

Wonder how BrainStorm came to be? We’re cracking open the BrainStorm archives to look at the moments that charted the course for where (and who) we are today.

Before the awards, the product innovations, the foosball tourneys, and the employees scattered across the nation, BrainStorm started like many other companies: small. The company was acquired by two Wharton grads, John Wade and Eric Farr, who knew they could take the fledgling company and ultimately change the way the world works. Early on, they learned that good business goes beyond an exchange of goods and services and delivers something more—a promise to do right by our customers.

In 2003, the company was young and primarily operating out of small basement. In those early days, budgets were small and money was tight. When BrainStorm received an order for several thousand Quick Start Cards from a customer based in Scotland, it was a significant purchase and an important milestone for the growing business. BrainStorm shipped the order and (thought) all was well.

The customer called on a Thursday with unfortunate news: the shipment was set to arrive Monday afternoon—but the customer needed it Monday morning for a scheduled training engagement. If the cards didn’t arrive before the training, the cards wouldn’t be distributed to the users.

Several frantic calls to the shipper later, it became clear that there was no way that the shipment would arrive by Monday morning. While it would have been easy to shrug their shoulders and say, “There’s nothing we can do,” John and Eric knew they couldn’t let the customer down and spent the next 24 hours searching for a solution.

The only solution was to to fly Eric, along with several hundred pounds of product, to Scotland to personally make the delivery. But a tight budget meant that the cheapest flight wouldn’t necessarily be the most direct.

And so, Saturday morning, Eric flew from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, to New York, to London, and finally, to Scotland. He and the client met at the airport on Sunday afternoon, handed off the cards, shared a few sodas (who wouldn’t need a caffeine boost after that itinerary?), and parted ways. Two hours after he arrived, Eric was back on the plane and heading home to Salt Lake City.

The customer was shocked that one of the principals of the company had just hand-delivered their order (crossing too many time zones to count) to make sure that they were satisfied.

“That really set the tone for us—it was a rally cry of 'This is who we are,’” says Eric. “While that particular deal didn’t turn out to be as profitable as it could have, it created a long-term relationship with that client for many years. They knew we’d take care of them.”

The “Great Scottish Pilgrimage” set a precedent at BrainStorm that still shapes how we do business today. While perfection is always the goal, sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. “We always try to turn negative experiences into positive ones,” says Eric. “We hope that a customer coming out of a potentially negative experience may even say, ‘Maybe it wasn’t so bad—look what BrainStorm did to make up for it!’”

Categories: BrainStorm News
Jourdan Strain

Better known around the office as “The Queen of No,” Jourdan can actually be sort of pleasant once you get to know her. When she isn’t distracting the Marketing team with music video ideas, Jourdan is probably stalking the Barefoot Contessa, pretending (poorly) to enjoy exercise, or Netflix binging with her husband and goofball of a dog.

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