Customer Service Lessons from the Ice Cream Lady

Every Friday between 5 and 6 pm my kids hear the familiar jingle of the Ice Cream truck headed in our direction. The first time we heard it we chased that truck all through the neighborhood until we finally caught it. A memory my kids still talk about…

Now she comes by our street and goes really slow as she passes by the house, giving my kids plenty of time to find their quarters and their shoes.

Last Friday, as the music faintly filled the air, the girls set off to find some money. Unfortunately the economic crisis has trickled down to my kids’ savings and there was no money to be scavenged.

One of my daughters said she still wanted to go outside to say hi and another came to me crying. All she had was the two dollars that the Tooth Fairy had carefully crafted into a beautiful butterfly. She really wanted ice cream but did not want to unfold her gift. I told her she should save the butterfly, but she could still go say hello to the ice cream lady.

To my surprise my two girls came back five minutes later with three ice cream cones in their little hands… Apparently when my girls told the ice cream lady that they had no money, she had compassion and gave them ice cream that she said she couldn’t sell because it had gotten squished, just a little bit.

What impressed me the most is that she gave them three drumsticks, one for my littlest girl who was too busy playing princess to hear the truck.

There is a really important business lesson to be learned here: Do you love your customers enough to help them even when they have run out of quarters? And do you know them well enough anticipate their needs? (The extra cone for a little princess that would surely want one as soon as she saw her sisters’).

My girls immediately decided they wanted to do something nice for her the next week. They also decided to have a lemonade and cookie stand to make money so they could buy ice cream next time too. Her small act of kindness inspired my girls to be innovative and they pulled in nearly six dollars over the weekend.

Thank you ice cream lady for making my girls so happy. You have earned lifelong customers who tell everyone they know how great you are. If only all businesses were as good to their customers as you!