34 Who’s Your Gladys?
tion. He had purchased a PRS guitar from an online dealer, and when he
pulled it out of the shipping box, he had discovered a six-inch scratch on
the case. The angry customer was sure that the scratch was caused by the
long staples that were used to seal the packaging. The dealer would not
take responsibility for the damage, insisting that the case was in perfect
condition when it was shipped out. Without a moment’s hesitation,
Shawn took the most immediate approach to resolving his customer’s
issue. He said, ‘‘What’s your address? I’ll send you out a new case.’’ Re-
lieved, the customer asked, ‘‘What do you want me to do with the dam-
aged case?’’ Shawn replied, ‘‘Maybe you can pay it forward and help out
a kid who needs a case. If not, consider it a backup, and when you go to
your next gig, take the beat-up case.’’
The customer was shocked, ‘‘That’s it? You’re just going to send me a
case?’’ Shawn didn’t see a reason to put his customer to any further trou-
ble. ‘‘He had a problem, and I took care of it. If I have a problem with a
product, I want to call the company and have it handled quickly. It
doesn’t serve me to give people the runaround. If someone calls with a
problem and I can make that problem go away painlessly, why wouldn’t
I? I don’t understand the philosophy of companies that expect you to
make 10 different phone calls and talk to 20 different people.’’ Shawn’s
approach turned his angry customer into a fan, and soon afterward, Paul
Reed Smith himself received a glowing letter about this guitarist’s ex-
treme satisfaction with Shawn and with PRS.
Employees in all positions within PRS are allowed significant latitude in
straightening out their customers’ issues. ‘‘I have a lot of flexibility to
solve problems, so I try to figure out what’s motivating the customer and
what is behind her anger,’’ said Shawn. ‘‘Some people just want to be
recognized or made to feel special. Basically, it is a negotiation. We have
some rules and guidelines we like to follow as far as what is covered under
warranty, but I want to figure out what it is they want to accomplish.’’
The company founder, Paul Reed Smith, has been a role model for
Shawn. ‘‘We treat people the way we want to be treated,’’ Paul explained.
‘‘That’s all there is to it.’’
Shawn is quick to say, ‘‘I don’t have any enlightened answer. I put

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