I was in the market to buy a bicycle. A really nice one.
One bike shop was within walking distance of my house so I could buy it and ride it home. Easy as it gets.
I walked into the shop and asked about the model I wanted. The manager was sitting behind a desk, which was elevated so they were looking over the top of my head (who thought that was a good idea?). This person barely raised their head and replied they didn’t have one, but might in the future. Check back when I can.
Didn’t look me in the eye, didn’t ask for my phone number or email (which I would have gladly given), didn’t offer to show me a comparable or better model, didn’t even stand up and come around from behind the desk.
I’ve never been back to that bike shop.
Instead, I got in my car and drove twenty minutes to another bike shop.
They met me at the door, told me they had the model I wanted in stock, but had I considered another brand, virtually identical, except it was $300 less? The sales person explained all the similarities of the more expensive bike I was originally interested in. I was impressed with the expertise.
It was less convenient to buy from this bike shop since I didn’t have a bike rack on my car to haul it home. But that didn’t matter.
I was buying the bike shop, not the bike.
Exceptional service beats location, selection, and price every time.
Here’s a quick way to score your level of exceptional service.
Prompt Responses: Speed wins. If a customer has a question, needs further information, or is waiting on a response from you for any reason, speed wins. As far as they are concerned you’re only serving them. Wait too long to respond? Someone faster makes the sale.
First and last impressions: There is a wine shop close to my home that has a practice of saying the minute, and I mean the minute, you step in the door, “Welcome to (and the store name).” At first I thought, “that’s a little cheesy.” But the more I thought about all the times I’ve walked on to a sales floor and wondered if I was invisible, I came to like it. If the customer’s first four contacts with your company go well, there will be virtually no complaints thereafter. (Excellence Wins).
Equally important is how you say goodbye. Always thank the customer for the privilege of serving them. Walk them to the exit and wave goodbye. This engenders a positive attitude to return again.
Extra mile moments: Whenever a customer has a “you didn’t have to do that” comment, that’s great customer service. Going above and beyond to surprise your customer sometimes goes viral and gets you publicly you couldn’t buy. I had a company come to my condo and measure custom window coverings for four sliding glass doors. When they brought the product, it was awful. Ill fitting, saggy, and billowy. Long story short, they sent another person to measure again, brought a more expensive product out they thought would work better and installed it at the original price. I’m a customer for life.
No excuses: The second bike shop I went to, and eventually bought from, had a far worse location than the first. But you would never know it from their attitude. When you line up excuses instead of stimulating innovation, customer service suffers, and so do your sales.
That’s a partial list, but a good start.
Time to ride my bike.
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