So...if you find that someone is really worth mentioning for their customer service efforts, please let them know and take a photo of them with your phone camera. I've done it. Most people are thrilled just to be noticed. Then send me your story, their name, where they work, and their photo at email@example.com. Let them know they can see themselves at the customer service challenge page on www.thestayathomegringo.blogspot.com.
Thanks for participating.
Here's mine to kick things off:
Keila & Eliecer at Do It Center in Villa Lucre
Keila & Eliecer, written on 8/5/2013
I was at Do It Center, sorting through the vacuums, trying to find a reasonably priced one, when Keila, a very nice young lady asked if I needed help. I did my best to explain to her, in broken Spanish, which vacuum I was interested in. It turned out the one I wanted was way up on the top shelf, where, even with a step ladder, she wouldn't be able to reach. She told me to wait a sec, then disappeared and returned with Eliecer, a happy and energetic young man, who hopped up on the ladder and started fishing out vacuums for me.
One of the great things about Panama, or at most of the stores anyway, is the fact that the employees usually take the item out of the box, plug it in, and test it to make sure it's working properly, before allowing you to purchase the item. Keila and Eliecer worked together like relay racers as he opened the box, pulled everything out, handed it to her, and she plugged it in.
They were incredible, almost like a pit crew at Nascar.
It took several attempts before I found a vacuum I liked, and these two were customer service pros, never getting aggravated or losing patience with the crazy gringo who couldn't commit to a freakin' vacuum. I asked if they minded posing for a photo, and was surprised that they were both willing. They were all smiles, just as they were through my entire experience. This was the Do It Center in Villa Lucre, and I hope somehow their boss comes across this post and gives them both a pat on the back.
Archi at Friday's in Multiplaza Mall
Archi, written on 8/5/2013
Sunday afternoon, my wife and I took all the kids to TGIF "Friday's" for lunch. I hate to say that at most of the Fridays I've been to, the service is just okay at best. At the Los Pueblos Friday's, I sat for over a half-hour just waiting for someone to take my order, and the restaurant was nearly empty. The new Friday's at Multiplaza Mall was a much better experience.
The place was packed, so we had to wait about twenty minutes for a table, but once seated everything was great. Archi was our waiter, and the dude was awesome. He approached us as soon as we sat down, took our order, and returned rather quickly with our drinks.
Archi took his job very seriously and never missed a beat. He smiled the entire time, gave us everything we asked for (not easy when there's a table with 4 kids) and even refilled my drink 3 times. That's almost unheard of in Panama (sorry my Panamanian friends, but you know it's true).
Jorge Lopez at the Movistar in Los Pueblos
Jorge Lopez, written on 6/24/2013 -- I'd just purchased a new phone at the Panafoto in the outdoor shopping center called Los Pueblos. Across the street was a Movistar, which is one of the major cell phone providers here in Panama. My previous phone was hooked up through Movistar, so I decided to cross over and see if they could add my service on to my new phone.
Jorge Lopez was sitting at the counter. Like a super quiet, stealthy customer service ninja, Jorge took my phone and worked his secret Smartphone magic. When I asked if he spoke English, I got the typical Panamanian answer for when someone does...kinda. He said, "So-so." That's code for: "Speak slowly, don't use slang, and if you have a British or Redneck accent, just forget about it."
It turned out, I didn't have to ask for anything. He smiled, took the phone, and began transferring everything I had from my old phone over to my new. When I got my phone back, all my contacts had been switched over, and every major application, to include Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp were present. He even set up my gmail account so I'd receive all my emails on my phone. When I told him that my wife, Marlene, was having issues with her phone, he took it, explained to her the problem, and then fixed it, without a hitch. The guy was amazing.
So, to Jorge Lopez, I just want to say thank you for helping out a gringo. I really appreciate it. And to his boss, wife, friends, kids, or whoever else might come across this, give Jorge a pat on the back for doing things right. And if you happen to be in the Los Pueblos area, pop your head into Movistar and say hi.
Ariel Arauz at Delta Gas in Villa Lucre
Ariel Arauz, written on 1/17/2013 -- I met Ariel Arauz at the Delta gas station in Villa Lure. He walked up to my car with a big smile on his face, introduced himself to me, and then continued to ask questions and get to know me as he pumped my gas and checked my tires. From that day on, I drove out of my way to go to his gas station to get gas, and each time he was in great spirits.
It was Ariel who gave me this whole "customer service challenge" idea. People like Ariel, who go to work every day with a great, positive attitude, are the kinds of people who deserve to be recognized. Thanks Ariel for making each and every one of your days an important one in the name of customer service.