No, it was not the Calypso Tumblers on Venice Beach, nor was it the trip to Universal Studios. It was not the late night run down Sunset Strip (what I wouldn't give to be twenty-one again), nor was it running into Xzibit at the Ice Cube CD release party. It was everything that happened in a Sam Ash music store.
I went into Sam Ash on Sunset after not being able to find the new Zoom H4 Handy Recorder at the Guitar Center and some other music stores. The reason I was eager to get my mitts on the Zoom H4 was, to be quite frank, the price. From the reviews I've read it's equal to the performance of the M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 or the Roland Edirol R-9, but the price tag is about $100 - $150 less than the M-Audio and the Edirol.
Sam Ash was out of the Zoom H4 and the sales associate tried to convince me to grab the M-Audio. He was running through his pitch, when I said it was really just a question of saving the additional bucks as I was not looking to use the product for anything other than Podcasting.
Here's where things got awesome and made me appreciate the slowly dying art of great customer service.
He asked me if I would be willing to buy the M-Audio if he could sell it to me for the same price at the Zoom H4. I was loving this. He went to speak to his manager as I thought about it. He came back with the M-Audio and asked if we had a deal.
The seal on the box was open, so we inspected it together and even though everything looked to be in place, there were some marks on the MicroTrack. I got concerned that someone had bought it and returned it. That's when the manager got involved and said, "listen, you've invested a significant amount of time in checking out the M-Audio, I want to sell it, you want to buy it... what will it take to make us both happy?"
Everybody loves a deal, so not only did I get the M-Audio MicroTrack for less than the sale price of the Zoom H4, but the manager of Sam Ash then spent a good twenty minutes offering up great advice on what else I should be checking out in Los Angeles, and some of the better (re: non-tourist) local eats. After that, the sales associate provided me with some killer technical support on the mixing board and mic I have back home for Podcasting, but have been having issues with.
Great customer service is not about getting the right price. I wanted the M-Audio, but I also wanted the store to make money. They made an extra (and huge) effort to not just push gear out of the door, but to make friends. To start a conversation. And, in doing so, I would never cross the street to The Guitar Center again. Sam Ash has gained a lifelong customer... and one who is proud to evangelize, spread and refer people to the Sam Ash on Sunset.