I live in a rural part of ... and drive a Volvo ... not sure, but I think it's a state law now that ... to drive a Volvo). Despite its boxy, almost ... I love it.
I live in a rural part of Connecticut and drive a Volvo wagon (I'm not sure, but I think it's a state law now that everyone has to drive a Volvo). Despite its boxy, almost hearse-like styling, I love it. Plus, the fact that it's a turbo makes this family truckster a rocket ship on wheels. (This is an 850 we're talking about, made when Volvos were still Volvos, before they were Americanized by Ford. Ugh.)
Recently, my car was in need of service which could be postponed no longer, despite my best efforts. Being out in the country, it's hard to find a good mechanic I can trust that can service an import. As a result, I made arrangements to take it to one of the bigger dealers in the state, nearly an hour away.
When I first called to make an appointment, the service rep was polite, helpful, and eager to answer my questions. As I hadn't purchased the vehicle from them, a loaner was not available.
"Would you like me to make rental arrangements for you?" he asked. "I'll have them pick you up when you drop off your car and bring you back after you drop off the rental. I can get you a good rate, too."
"Huh?" I thought, "You mean you're going to go out of your way to solve my problems?"
I've rarely experienced anything like that before, and never with a mechanic. I made the arrangements for the following week.
When the day came and I walked into the service area, I noticed a conspicuous absence of, well, for lack of a better word, grease monkeys. Instead, I encountered professionally-attired men and women busily hurrying about their duties. They weren't too busy, however, to extend a warm "hello - we'll be right with you". I also noticed a fresh pot of coffee in the waiting area, next to the TV and very comfy-looking couches.
I waited less than a minute before a service rep helped me. I gave my name, and my paperwork was there, waiting for me. I didn't have to complete any forms, or give the same information that I had previously given on the phone all over again. I alerted him to another potential problem, and he made a note to have it checked out. He knew what had to be done, and wasted no time - all without making me feel hurried.
This was mid-morning. He said he'd call me to confirm the work, and if all went well, the car would be ready by the end of the day. I handed over the keys.
An hour later, I was in a meeting when my cell phone rang (normally, I turn it off - but this is my Volvo we're talking about here).
"Hi Mr. Chapuis. I just want to let you know that everything looks good. It's exactly what you thought it was. Here's your estimate..."
"What about that other problem?" I asked.
"Oh, that's fine. There's no need to have it done," he replied. "I'll give you a call when the car's ready."
After we hung up, I thought to myself: they could have milked me for another couple hundred bucks (like many other mechanics would have). I wouldn't have known the difference.
Just after lunch, the phone rang again. "All done Mr. Chapuis," the rep said. I was expecting the car at 5:00. It was ready four hours early.
After the rental car agency drove me back to the dealership, I noticed a conspicuously shiny vehicle backed into a parking space. It looked just like mine would if it were for sale on the lot. Upon further inspection, I saw that the floors were clean, too - spotless almost. Couldn't be my car.
"I hope you don't mind we cleaned your car up a bit," I was told when paying inside.
I looked behind me for cameras or the ghost of Alan Fundt. I walked outside, a bit stunned by what had transpired.
Before pulling away in my new-looking, smooth-driving car, I noticed the service light hadn't been turned off. I went back in just as the shop was closing. I found a man in a sharp suit who looked a sales manager, or at the very least, like someone who has never had to scrub grease off their hands. A few seconds later, he had popped open the hood, removed some covers, fidgeted with some buttons and wires, and then merrily sent me on my way.
I can hear you asking: "OK, Joe, what in the world does this story have to do with internet business?"
Everything. The internet is no different from the "real world". Just faster.
Here are a few questions you need to be asking yourself about your business and online activities:
Is your organization trained to respond to inquiries in a timely and professional manner? Are you catering to the customer's wants and needs? Are you showing an appreciation for your customer's business? Are you greeting and responding to people by name? Are you going out of your way to solve problems? Are your services saving customers time instead of wasting it? Are you offering solutions? Are you instilling a sense of trust? Are you delivering what you promise, on time? Are you delivering MORE than you promise? Do your customers leave feeling they received good value for their money? Are your customers consistently coming back for more? Are your customers so thrilled with your service that they're doing the best advertising for you, for free?
Bottom Line: If you're not answering "yes" to all of these questions, you're losing money.
I may or may not go back for something as simple as an oil change. But, where am I going to go for a brake job or tune-up? Better yet, where do you think I'm going to buy my next Ford, um... I mean, Volvo?
Joe Chapuis is a self-employed internet business consultant and online publisher who swears he'll never work for someone else again. His free report: The 10 Commandments of Online Success™ and free email newsletter will show you how to get "amazing results online, fast." Subscribe Here » » » http://RequiredReading.com