5 Ways to Care For Your Customers
by Al Getler
It truly doesn’t take much to be a business with the reputation of providing great customer service. For most business owners, executives and managers it requires leadership by example. And most often it boils down to the way that you treat people.
Here are five ways to show your customers you really care:
Giving People More Than Expected
In a previous post I wrote about the local amusement park near where we live, Canobie Lake Park. This family fun destination is over the Massachusetts border in New Hampshire and has entertained people since the turn of the 20 Century. Their website has a thorough history of the park here.
Every time we bring someone to Canobie Lake for the first time, they walk away thinking that they had a good a time in such a clean, well-run park so close to our home. It truly is a little slice of Disney in southern New Hampshire. Everything from the rides to the shows to the food and the cleanliness is above average. On Saturday night, there is even a first-rate fireworks display.
Most importantly, the Canobie Lake Park team greets you warmly when you arrive and reminds you to come back soon when you leave. Throughout a visit to the park the staff is always on hand to be sure you are having a good time.
Solving Customers’ Problems or At Least Trying
A problem began out of the blue when posting this blog onto LinkedIn.
Previously, when I had copied and pasted the URL from my blog into a LinkedIn update, the image from my post seamlessly carried over along with a few words about the blog. Then one day it stopped. The only thing that shows now is “algetler.com”.
Sure that it was something I had done wrong, I pulled my WordPress self-hosted website apart hoping to solve the problem. After several attempts trying to fix the problem, I decided to do something with zero expectation (make that absolutely none) of getting a response. I wrote to the LinkedIn support folks.
I immediately received an automated response. Any goon can set that up, so my expectations remained low. Then, to my complete amazement, a real live person wrote back to me and said she would work to solve the problem. She stuck with me for weeks and even monitored and escalation for the issue.
The problem did not get solved as it seems the issue is not a LinkedIn problem, but that is not the story here. The story is that a big dot-com took a very personal approach to solving a problem. To show my appreciation I am now a paying LinkedIn member.
You have to answer the question I am about to ask honestly: Would you send a man with his daughter to buy a birthday present for a girl’s birthday party (or even a boy’s)? If you are honest, you just said to yourself, “Are you kidding?”
I am not kidding.
I am well aware that most men fail miserably at this task. We either come home with something that completely insults the gift recipient’s age, gender, intellect or taste or we come home with something we thought was cool (like the giant whoopee cushion I bought for a five-year-old whose parents favor Brahms over pop music) only to have someone in possession of a complete brain (Mrs. Getler) turn us around and send us back to buy a specified item.
Since the whoopie cushion incident (by the way, I kept it for my use) my wife has introduced me to Learning Express. This is a store that is almost fool-proof for a dope like me.
Just this past Saturday my daughter and I went there to buy a gift for her friend Isabel. Armed with the knowledge the theme of the party was flowers, we chose a Crocs brand large purse/baggy thing and an accessories flower that snapped on. We also purchased a cool book that allows you to scratch away black stuff to create pictures with the colors underneath (magic). The present was perfectly gift wrapped and the card my daughter hand-made with duct tape (mystery) was attached.
Here is the secret sauce: All of this was done under the watchful guidance of the store staff. They made sure I succeeded. They nodded with approval along the way and sneered with disapproval when I reached for army guys. Most of all they were very helpful, very sweet and provided value beyond the actual purchase.
Sticking With the Customer
Every time I walk into an Apple Store I have a barrage of dumb questions. The first five are real questions and the last one I throw in as a test.
Despite how dumb the questions are and the depth to which the Apple employees must sink to answer them, they stick with me. They don’t condescend and they do not shove me off with a convenient and short answer to shut me up. Usually my questions bring us both to a point where we learn something together making the experience all the more meaningful to each of us.
Let’s face it, Apple employees look like the cool techies that should care less about we mere mortals. Yet they let you know from the start that their genius is at your service.
Saying Thank You
Whether it is a bottle of wine and a vase filled with flowers in your new home left by the realtor or a hand written note dropped in the mail after making a purchase, the little extra that goes in saying thank you has long-lasting effects.
One of my favorite restaurants in the area where I live, Tuscan Kitchen, begins the meal with a thank you. The chef always has a little surprise in a piece of fresh-baked bread just to show his appreciation for sitting at one of his tables. The puny amount that costs Tuscan Kitchen is more than made up by the repeat business.
In The End, It is the People
As I exit a Southwest Airlines flight, I can’t help but smile as the crew lines up and thanks me for flying with them. They don’t need to do that. Hell; other airlines’ employees don’t want to do that, so they don’t. I fly Southwest when I can because I love the people who work there.
Customer service is about caring. Customers are people. People like to be cared about and cared for.
Maybe you should do what Southwest Airlines does. They don’t train their people to be nice; they hire nice people. Start with the people you pay to do the work. The rest follows from your example.