Why Not? — There Is Nothing Like Too-Much-Customer-Service

October 4, 2011

What is the height of Customer Service?

There are many examples. I found one very interesting sample in Robert Spector’s Book “Get Big Fast.” This incident is narrated by Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books, a leading bookstore in Oxford, Mississippi.

Richard Howorth(Image Courtesy:

One day, a lady entered Richard Howorth’s bookstore and started shouting. He went to her and asked calmly, “Excuse Me. Is there a problem? Can I help you?”

“I parked my car outside your shop, and someone has thrown dirt on it,” The lady fumed. “My husband just washed it this morning.”

Richard Howorth understood the problem. It was definitely not his issue. But the customer is always right. So he offered, ‘May I wash your car?”

She agreed. They got into her car and went to the nearest service station.

Unfortunately, the car wash in that service station was broken. Richard Howorth didn’t know any other service station or car wash nearby.

He thought for a minute and decided, “Let us go to my house.”


“I will personally wash your car.”

The lady was surprised and probably didn’t believe him. But that’s what Richard Howorth did. He took a bucket, detergent, and water hose and washed it spot-less-clean.

Finally, they got back to his bookstore & the lady apologized to him and thanked him for this unusual ‘service.’ After that, she became his regular customer and recommended this bookstore to all her friends and relatives.

Richard Howorth used to quote this story in his training classes for young booksellers. ‘There is no such thing as going too far with customer service, and in the book business, you will have to go this far.’

True for any business, especially service businesses!

Naga Chokkanathan

For more posts from Naga, please check his personal blog

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