Have you ever been in a situation when you say yes to something but know its near enough impossible to do, but you work and make it happen? I was in the same position a few weeks ago and it involved a Plane, 10 000 miles and a very crazy trip over one engagement ring!
I had been working with a client who wanted to design a truly bespoke engagement ring with us. As custom rings take time to design and manufacture, we usually guarantee delivery in 3-4 weeks, but when our customer told us that his planned proposal was one week away, we had to make a tough decision: Take on the challenge to deliver his bespoke engagement ring in record time or pass by the opportunity of creating a stunning design.
The pressure was on!
As we had not yet missed a proposal deadline, the pressure was on! Mid-afternoon on the same day, the client confirmed the shape and the size of the diamond, a stunning 2 carat pear shape, which we sourced through our office in Hong Kong; and that is when the hard work began. Our manufacturing partners pulled off a miracle and helped us cast the bespoke engagement ring into platinum over the weekend – which is almost unheard of in our industry.
I had already sent some Easter eggs to our setters and polishers, hoping I could bribe them to work faster with treats. With quality it takes time, and they literally had to drop everything to make this ring happen. The ring MUST be shipped out on Thursday to reach the customer on time. It’s Wednesday and the diamond is now on its way. On Thursday I could think of nothing else as I waited for the diamond to arrive, and as it did, our client dropped me an e-mail asking: “How is the ring coming along?”. It was very intense.
As the ring comes back, complete and looking beautiful, my colleague Andres is on the phone with FedEx, UPS and every other courier under the sun. We needed a next day delivery but with Good Friday coming up, no one could confirm an on time delivery would happen and we could not and would not leave this to chance. I looked over to Andres and said,
“You know what this means right?” He looked at me and said “No. What are you thinking?”
“I think I might have to fly out to deliver this ring?” Thinking I am joking he responds, “Wow, are you serious?”
For me, it was the most natural thing. We just could not get this ring out on time in the way we usually would. Although at the time some of our team members were in Hong Kong and New York, we all got together online to discuss and we decided it would be a very costly decision, but one that was worth it. As an online retailer our margins are small and unexpected costs like this are not taken into account when we price a ring. However, we also know that a happy customer is a customer that shares their experience and we hoped our grand gesture would not go unnoticed.
Next on my hectic agenda was the flight, and I found comfort in choosing British Airways with their motto “To Fly. To Serve.” seeming rather poignant.
At this point I had made a point to not let the client feel like there was anything to worry about. I asked him when he would like the ring to be delivered and he said,
“Sunday would be great if possible?” I responded “Sure, how does 2.30 work for you?” At this point the client asked,
“You do know it is Easter Sunday?” to which I replied
“We have ways of making things happen. You will have it for 2.30 on Sunday.”
London Heathrow to Arizona, the journey begins
Saturday I get up, get ready and start making my way to Heathrow. Engineering works on the metro (of course) and yes I am an hour late because of it. I am running through Terminal 5 and I get on the flight as the last passenger and I’m on my way. 10,000 miles here I come!
Arizona. Hot. HOT and more HOT. A beautiful place and the people were so friendly. I book into the Crown Hotel at Phoenix Airport which had a great team and I get ready to deliver the next day. You know, only then did I realise how nervous I was about meeting the client? It was an odd sort of feeling. I didn’t have a chance to stop for one moment to think how crazy the whole thing was.
I get to the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain a beautiful resort in Phoenix the next day and the clock strikes 2:28 and at the front desk I say “I am wondering if you could call this client for me? Mr Barrick?” The lady responds, “Oh, he is waiting for you in the bar!” I barely have a second to think and calm down when he turns the corner and I realise he doesn’t know what I look like or who I am. In his eyes, I am just a courier and he must sign for the package. “Hi.” he says “Hello Mr Barrick. It’s Sean from Rare Pink.” His mouth drops open and he says,
“No! You’re joking? Are you serious? You flew in?? From London? No?”
I muster “There was no other way of getting this ring to you! Otherwise it would have arrived four days late!” He responds “Wow! I can’t believe it! How long was the flight?”
“15 Hours. It’s fine. Would you like to take a seat and have a look at the ring?”
We look at the ring. He loves it, which is always a relief and then he asks. “Tao is here, would you like to meet her?” Tao is the lady for whom this ring was designed. Her name means “path” or “way” and the ring design was inspired by the association of “Taoism” with the famous “Yin-Yang” relationship. We hope you will agree that the waves of the rings’ design truly reflect the symbol of this ancient Chinese philosophy.
I meet Tao, casually enjoying a drink overlooking the Arizona landscape and Camelback Mountain. I am introduced as a business associate from London, which is fine with me and then the conversation starts. Believe it or not, it was such a fabulous day. I stayed for over five hours just talking about art, and culture, sushi and porcelain. I left them for the evening before slipping the ring in Brian’s hands saying “Good luck. Let me know how it goes.”
A day or so later I get an e-mail saying “Thank you! It was great”, and my work is done. I met them just before leaving as Tao now knew who I was. She was happy and that is all that mattered! As I got ready to leave the real sunshine state, I realised that this is what its about.
Service. Quality and making Business Happen, no matter the obstacles. The famous saying in customer service is “Going the extra mile.” I can happily say this was a few thousand more than that and in the most literal sense, it was a true case of Special Delivery!