Yesterday I had a genuinely great customer experience and, for some reason, it seemed to hit a nerve way back in the recesses of my brain. The problem was I couldn’t understand why. Then, on the drive home, it came to me. That ‘funny feeling’ I had was the realisation that experiencing good customer service has, somewhere along the way, become a rare event in my consumer life.
Why? Has it always been this way? Am I expecting too much? Afterall, I came to purchase a product not a smile. Should decent customer service be an add-on? “Will you be purchasing service with your fries today?”
Genuine time and interest in customers can do more than just convert a sale; it can go all the way to securing the next one. Being nice, knowledgeable about what you do or sell, and adding those little extra touches, cannot only help get a second sale, but it can cement a life-long customer. Your potential customers are creatures of habit, they are also creatures of vanity and, if they like their experience with you, if they feel the value they’re getting is above the dollar value you set, they will pay the extra, walk that little bit further and stay as long as your service stays consistent.
Case Study No. 1: The roofing company, Auckland Roofing Limited, who fixed our plumbing problem.
At work we had a (delightful!) office flood – thanks to that crazy weather bomb last Tuesday. It had happened before and we had a roofer called John who came and inspected the problem. John was called this time round as well. He wasn’t working nearby when we called John and even though it was also late notice in the afternoon, John still came. He was smart, informative, didn’t treat us like unskilled buffoons, but instead came up with some potential fixes and a guarantee to come back to us with a solution. He showed he cared. Will we ever use anyone else for this service? Hell no!
The success formula? Dealing with a senior person with obvious knowledge, quick response times and a genuine commitment to help.
Case Study No. 2: Barkley Manor – a Dog Day Care, Grooming, and Training Facility.
Yesterday I enrolled my dog for a day in their day care facilities. It was my first time and, think what you like about the idea of sending a dog to day care, but until you have a dog that is the equivalent to a toddler with ADHD on speed, then you can scoff all you like.
Being a newbie I had to have a consultation. I was worried. Jimi is a handful, a delightful handful, but a very, very busy handful. However, I was immediately put at ease. We had a long conversation about the breed and about ways to work around some of the genetic predispositions like hunting, digging, chasing and, unfortunately, for me, a high intelligence. The latter is clearly indicated by the looks Jimi’s been giving me like: “ I know what you want me to do, but it ain’t gonna happen buddy; you are not as interesting as that poodle over there!”
Jimi was impressed with the customer service.
Then I got a run down on how they work, the added benefits of the day care, like teaching the dogs little tricks, teaching them to respond appropriately, and even going into great detail about what the various vaccinations dogs have and why they should have them. Information you should get from a vet; information that isn’t as forthrightly explained by a vet. Then the dog is taken in to have a run around and you are called in a few moments later once he’s been assessed. Jimi sometimes suffers from separation anxiety and going in alone allows the trainers to assess how bad the anxiety is. Fortunately, Jimi is not so bad – Phew!). You get to see the amazing facilities on offer, have more chats about how long they should stay on their first day (they recommend a half-day to start with – which is counter intuitive to profit generation – great little trust builder there) and that you are welcome and encouraged to call during the day to see how your beloved pet is handling the situation. Everything was covered, I was immediately put at ease and the best part for me was having a very happy (tired even!) puppy at the end of the session.
The success formula? The owner meets every new pet and parent, displays a genuine interest, spends time, displays long, in-depth knowledge about your dog’s breed, the realities of owning a dog, and the overall industry – all of which provide added-value and confidence. The result: trust, security, happiness and the very strong likelihood of continued patronage from me and my pup.
Here’s the final word – if you aren’t already convinced of the value good customer service can add to your bottom line – Barkley Manor is very successful, growing, and has had to relocate to accommodate its growth. And what’s more, it’s all happening in a recession!
The moral of these two case studies: Let’s all stop blaming the recession and take a good, hard objective look at how we are delivering the service that will be talked about like these two great examples of outstanding customer service.