Amazing Customer Service Could Save a Life

Published in Image Freedom by

Last week was one for the record books.  This time of year always is, with many businesses getting their new year budgets finally released and setting out to do that marketing thing, but also due to my mentoring at TechStars Cloud.  Every year the TechStars Cloud group brings about a dozen companies from all over the world to learn from about 60 or so mentors, like me, on anything from raising money, to how to market their service or how to reach their target audience.

Sophie's Heart

My busy week concluded Friday with a big “fly in” day where mentors came from all over to help these companies in a big “mass mentorship” day.  Only problem was, I was out of business cards.  Mentors love to hand out business cards, I have a small stack of them from folks I’ll likely never see or hear from again, but hey if I ever have a question that only a computer science engineer from IBM could answer… I’m set!

So before the day started, I called our friends over at MultiCopy (516 New Laredo Pkwy) to check on the status of a business card order I’d placed.  I’m as picky with my printing as I am with my Iron Man collectibles, and I rely on Carmen and Matt at MultiCopy to take good care of us, be it the offset printing we use for our business cards or anything and everything digital printing.  They have simply never let me down.

Problem was, my order wasn’t ready yet.

Not their fault, I didn’t set a deadline or imply I was out (which I should have) but on the phone with Carmen he tells me they have a small stack of cards from a previous run and that those cards might help at least get me through my busy Friday.

He didn’t have to offer that, he could have cut the call short and simply said “sorry, they’re not ready yet”, I certainly wouldn’t have faulted him for that, it’s not like they were late.  No, Carmen decided to go above and beyond and look at my call from the “how can I solve this problem?” point of view, and even refused to charge me for these “leftover” cards even after I insisted on at least paying labor.

I rallied the troops, got Andrew and newcomer Rafael in the car, and the three of us headed down to MultiCopy.  I took the team as I wanted them to see where it was in case they needed to go down there at some point without me.  On the car ride over I recalled one of the last times I’d been to MultiCopy, probably about two years ago now, when we’d adopted a stray dog that was living on the streets near the shop.  We’d gotten her fixed, caught up on her shots, and helped find her a new home.  It was a feel good story.

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At which point we met Sophie (above).

Now it was Sara who named her Sophie, but the folks around MultiCopy simply called her “Momma” on account of her giant ready-to-burst pregnant belly.  Had she simply been a stray dog, I might have frowned, gone inside, picked up my business cards, and been on my way.  I was late afterall, as pretty much all day I’d be over at Geekdom doing the TechStars thing, and I’d already missed out on the free breakfast!

I was late.  But she was pregnant

From the looks of her, she’s a Great Dane mix, incredibly sweet, and way too thin for how pregnant she was.  At this point Carmen’s brother came out and jokingly asked if I wanted another one.  He remembered!  He wasn’t far off either, as we’d be doing our own bit of Image Freedom du Soleil to wrangle this sixty pound pregnant dog into my car without having to abandon a staff member on the south side to do it.

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What followed was an afternoon of ignoring my responsibilities.  You’ll forgive me if I don’t feel all that bad about it.  I brought the whole team back to my house where we bathed “Sophie” to wash off all the fleas and performed a bit of tweezer surgery to remove some nasty ticks that prove that everything really is bigger in Texas.

I took calls in between rinsing suds out of Sophie’s fur and did my best to at least stay on top of e-mail messages throughout the day.  Sara, my wife and Image Freedom’s Operations Manager, didn’t even murder me when I got home with ANOTHER dog as she’d recently supported Fighting For Dawn, a charity founded to help dogs not unlike our Sophie.

For new hire Rafael, we rounded out his first full week with shampoo and hoses, probably not what he expected, but I feel really good knowing that he knows who he works for, and what we believe is important.  The problem of stray dogs here in San Antonio is people’s fault, these dogs didn’t spontaneously appear, and dogs like Sophie who don’t get fixed wind up having litter after litter after litter.  We’re told this will be Sophie’s seventh.

So now we’ve spent the weekend welcoming Sophie into our home, and we’re probably a few days away from the puppies being born.  We’ll update you with more (“like” Image Freedom via Facebook for the latest), but this whole experience got me thinking about that call I’d placed to Carmen.  Had he done only what was expected of him, then Sophie would probably still be sleeping on a sidewalk somewhere, probably to have her puppies under a dumpster, but because Carmen, and everyone we’ve met at MultiCopy, always go above and beyond, it enabled us to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m extremely grateful for.

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Last week was a stressful week.  It’s a good stress, it’s a creative stress, but I certainly hit the pillow like-it-stole-my-lunch-money every night.  There are only a few weeks left until TechStars Cloud comes to a close, and I only wish I was allowed to tell you all of the cool things I’ve seen from these amazing startup companies, but needless to say we’re “down to the wire”.  It was Friday, I was drained, I was carrying my stress with me everywhere I went, and while I’m sure Sophie is very grateful to have us, she saved me as much as we saved her.

So to my friends at TechStars Cloud who missed me last week, I at least have a reasonably good excuse:  The dog ate my Friday.

 UPDATE 3/26 – When we first found Sophie we called our friend Laura over at Perrin 410 Animal Hospital and she talked us through a stray dog checklist.  Last night we got her in to see Dr. Neal and get her checked out, ultrasounds, x-rays, etc.  Dr. Neal told us that Sophie is expecting 7-9 puppies and is due in the next three to twelve days.  So perhaps very soon we’ll have our hands quite full!

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They burned this X-Ray image to a CD for us so I was able to Photoshop it a bit and highlight the puppies heads… at least we think those are all puppies.