Customer Service -- Customer Loyalty Wins Sales
Exceptional customer service is NOT an extra cost of doing business. It is an investment in your own future success. No matter what you sell; whether it's goods or services, big ticket or small, sales and customer service are not two separate pieces. Every sale must come with the customer service built in.
Your Company spent millions of dollars to develop this wonderful product. Engineers spent countless hours creating and refining it. You spent additional millions of dollars in advertising to get me to buy it.
I bought it. I took it home and now it won't work because YOU neglected to include the only part that WILL make it work. For a couple of extra bucks, your cost and mine, I'm frustrated and angry with you and your Company.
It's the same with customer service.
No matter what you sell; whether it's goods or services, big ticket or small, sales and customer service are not two separate pieces. Every sale must come with the customer service built in.
Exceptional customer service is NOT an extra cost of doing business. It is an investment in your own future success.
In the early 1950s, my uncle had a very small clothing store in Miami, Florida. In those days, Miami was a major entertainment center, with the biggest names in show business appearing at the major hotels, very similar to Las Vegas today.
One evening, as he was leaving the stage at the end of the early show, a young singer ripped his tuxedo jacket on a nail sticking out of the wall. It was after 8 P.M., all the clothing stores were closed.
The hotel management called the major stores and owners because the singer didn't want to go on stage with a torn jacket or worse, no jacket.
None of the fancy clothing shop owners would leave their homes to accommodate the young man. Finally, in desperation, my uncle got the call. Would he come downtown with a couple of tuxedos? Within an hour my uncle was at the hotel with 4 tuxedos. He did the fitting and tailoring right on the spot.
The young singer and the big hotel management were ecstatic. The singer tried to shove a few extra hundred dollar bills into my uncle's hand, but he wouldn't take the money, explaining that he was honored to have the opportunity to earn the business.
The singer promised that he would never forget my uncle's kindness and would tell his show biz friends about my uncle. True to his word, the singer continued to tell his friends about my uncle, even as his singing career skyrocketed.
The young singer - Frank Sinatra. My uncle - went from a tiny clothing store on the edges of oblivion to "Mickey Hayes - Clothier to the Stars"; his walls covered with hundreds of photographs of the biggest names in show business.
On the other side of the coin is INTEL, the major manufacturer of computer chips, and, a great company.
Some years ago, Intel's newest chip had a design flaw that caused a problem in only the tiniest number of calculations, and only in highly complex situations. As this problem began to get reported in the press, owners of computers built with these new chips wanted replacements.
Intel's management stated that these customers were somewhat stupid since only highly complex calculations in specialized situations would experience that problem and then, only on the rarest occasions. They said that they would replace the chip if the customer could substantiate the claim that their chip was flawed. How stupid. If it only goes bad once in a zillion times, why not give a lifetime guarantee? Most of the customers would never run into that problem. If they had immediately offered the lifetime replacement guarantee, ALL of the customers would have had a very high degree of confidence that they would never need to take Intel up on their offer.
Intel finally did offer lifetime replacement - after worrying, offending and insulting millions of their customers.
We can all learn a valuable lesson from Nordstroms; the department store famous for customer service. Their service to customers is so incredible, that people go out of their way to shop there.
Mr. Nordstrom calls it 'customer heroics'. "We do it because we want more business - NOT simply because we're nice guys." I've always told my employees - "don't save me 'MY' money. If it helps the customer, SPEND my money. Even if they make a mistake, they won't be criticized if it helped the customer".
Nordstrom, over a period of many years, has developed a corporate culture of service to the customer. Any corporate culture, if it is going to endure successfully, MUST take on a life of its own, apart from the wishes of management. It has to be adopted by every employee, because THEY each think that it's a good idea.
Whether you are a 1 person operation or the largest company, you know what good customer service is. It's the Golden Rule applied to business - "Do unto others".
Listen to your customers' spoken requests - and unspoken. They'll tell you what they want. Add a large portion of your own good common sense. Make a commitment to yourself that you will give your customers, service beyond their highest expectations If you will do these few simple things, I can guarantee you success beyond YOUR expectations.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Wollin is a Warren Buffet style investment advisor with 45+ years of Wall Street experience. He has been regularly featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and many other publications around the world. He writes and speaks on sales, customer loyalty, and the stock market. For more information, please visit http://www.garywollin.com