One Friday night after work, I went to dinner with an old friend. I was pleased to show him and his wife some of my favourite spots in Auckland Central. We wound up at Brothers Beer near closing. The friendly staff obliged us and helped me pick out a few local brews to impress.

At the end of the evening, I realised that I had lost my iPhone. A work device, my employer requires that iCloud’s Find My iPhone be disabled. There was little I could do but call it umpteen times as I retraced my steps; no luck.

I woke early on Saturday morning and felt the acute pangs of smartphone-dependency; lying in bed with no Feedly, no Instagram. With few options left, I took to Twitter search: (iphone OR phone) AND (lost OR found) was a depressing stream of first-world problems with no leads. I called the phone one last time before the battery depleted and finally sent a text message with my contact details.

I got an instant, surprisingly kind reply.

“This phone is lost. Please text XXX XXXXXX”

“I have your phone at Brothers Beer.”

“Thank you so much! When could I pick it up?”

“I will be here until 10am if you can make it. Or happy to drop it to you. Do you live local?”

“I’ll leave now and be there in 30mins. See you soon and thanks again!”

“OK. See you soon. What sort of coffee do you drink?”

“Flat white but please let me buy coffee.”

“They don’t cost me anything. Relax and enjoy your sunning drive. Stunning day.”

Andrew Larsen, co-founder of Brothers Beer, proved to be a gregarious and inquisitive guy. Having been a regular patron long enough to literally have the t-shirt to prove it, I was pleased to meet him. When he handed me my pre-ordered coffee on arrival, I liked him at once.

We chatted for a while. Andrew went on to describe his fascinating career in craft beer. An entrepreneur who has set up tens of breweries globally, he must have one of the best job titles conceivable: microbrewery consultant. He enthused about the whole supply chain, from distributing large-scale brewing equipment, to developing boutique brands that he exports to America. He let me sample the first pour of a brand new Brothers Beer lager. It wasn’t even on Untappd yet.

Andrew’s work sees him travelling constantly; his passports fill up quickly or disintegrate. He’s been a Gold/Elite frequent flyer of Air New Zealand for over a decade. We spoke about my job and it struck me that here was one of our premium customers showing me tremendous courtesy.

I was impressed by Andrew’s product knowledge and understanding of our organisation. I was excited to share his balanced feedback; what he valued and the continuous improvement that could make his journey seamless. Not to mention the Golden Rye Ale and Tawny Ale he sent me off with.

12 hours after losing my iPhone, I had it in hand, a coffee in the other, an arm full of free beer and a great experience with one of my favourite local businesses.

Cheers, Andrew for a good lesson in customer value.

Have you had a reciprocal customer experience? I’d love to hear about it.

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Originally published on Medium.