Big Man Hugs For LL Bean

We spew a lot of slags and jags here but every once in a while, we like to take a moment to praise an instance of particularly good customer service.

Today’s comes courtesy of comment land courtesan Homerjay. He had an awesome experience at L.L. Bean where the salespeople went out of their way to help him save $160.

His heart-warming tale, presented inside, shows how businesses can turn average customers into raving fans by putting the customers first and profits second — and make more money in the end.

    “I was in Freeport, Maine- home of any number of outlet stores and retail standout LL Bean- to do some Christmas shopping.

    Historically I have done very little shopping at LL Bean mostly because when I need something ‘outdoorsy’ I don’t immediately think of them. Last year I bought a pair of boots there that I beat the life out of. I returned them this year without a problem. They have a lifetime satisfaction guarantee on everything they sell. Even though I beat on them they really should have lasted longer.

    So while I was there this time I decided it was time to buy new ski wear for my wife and I. I found a jacket for $250 that was perfect. While I was trying them on a lovely saleslady, probably in her 60’s, came up to us and asked me if I needed any help. I talked to her about some of the features of the jacket (at that price apparently they start to have features) and she told me that this was their most expensive jacket and that I might want to look at one that is $100 less because it was designed more for the casual skier. (WHAAA?)

    She showed me a couple other less expensive ones, explained the differences in great detail and then brought me over to the computer to show me more details on the materials and care instructions. A this point I still ended up wanting the $250 one.

    Then another salesperson came by and the two talked. He commented on the expensive jacket and jokingly I said to him “Can I get your employee discount?” He chuckled and said “Ya know what? I think I can do better.”

    He then showed the saleslady that in the computer the $250 jacket is actually $170 if you order it in a discontinued color through the catalog. I was shocked. I was about to plop down $250 and they both knew it. He helped me place the order and that was that. These people get NO financial incentives or commissions. They’re totally there to help.

    Then! We went upstairs to find one for my incredibly indecisive wife. We spent the better part of an hour with a very nice salesgirl who was more than happy to show her every jacket they offer over and over and over. We told her up front that we had no intention of buying the jacket there because we wanted my wife’s father to buy it for her for Christmas. It made no difference to her. I was the one getting annoyed with my wife while the salesgirl just kept on going, smiling the whole time. In the end, she picked the same jacket I did. I mentioned the deal I got downstairs and she looked it up and it was also going on for discontinued womens colors. We ended up ordering it in the store anyway just to ensure we got the special price.

    I went out of there giddy at saving about $170 but mostly because the salespeople were SOOO helpful.

    I was willing to buy their most expensive jacket (which didn’t even come close to the most expensive North Face jacket) because of their lifetime satisfaction guarantee and the incredible helpfulness of the sales staff.

    If LL Bean can make a healthy profit within a model that allows for a well trained, friendly, helpful staff (even at the phone order center) and a lifetime guarantee, why can’t other retailers???

    Thanks for listening.


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