While sitting at breakfast recently I began a conversation with another patron of the restaurant, and we shared information about our work and lives. It was so refreshing to hear his stories that reinforce my beliefs about customer service and follow-up. It does not matter who we meet or chat with, we can find other people who share our beliefs about businesses, and how they should operate.
This particular person told me that he formerly lived in the area and returned recently after moving away for several years. Before he moved he had favorite restaurants, one of which was where we were eating, and other preferred businesses. He told me that he had that morning driven 30 miles round trip to a shop for a haircut. That action defines customer loyalty to a business.
Why would he drive that far for a haircut? The business is the same one he patronized before he moved away and returned. He really liked the proprietor’s haircuts, but more so, he loved the customer service that he received, over and above the haircut. He loved the way that the business made him feel when he went there. He loved the buying experience.
The television show Cheers showed us a neighborhood bar which valued its customers. They made people glad that they came into the bar and made them feel at home. We all want to go where they make us feel comfortable and where we can enjoy ourselves. We may even like that people remember our names. Who wants to be known as Account #12345 when we can be referred to as “Norm”?
The person who was sharing stories with me over breakfast was impressed by the fact that the barber remembered his name, how he wanted his hair cut, and welcomed him, even after he had been gone for years. The fact that they were appreciative of his business, showed gratitude for his coming into their shop, and made him enjoy the experience overshadowed the distance that he had to travel to obtain service.
While we were discussing the great customer service that he received, he told me that he worked for a software vendor who had him scheduled to be on call the rest of the day in case a specific client needed assistance with their operation. This was a Saturday, not your normal work day. While he would have preferred to not be working later that day, he also understood that customer service dictated that someone needed to be available if needed. Offshore customer service was not good enough for his firm.
We all dislike receiving mail addressed to “Occupant”, “Resident”, or “Our friends at” followed by our address. (If you are my “friend”, you know my name.) Maybe we should all take a page from our own preferences; maybe we should just use some common sense and stress customer service in our businesses. If we make our buying experience pleasurable and enjoyable for our customers, they will stay loyal to us. Even better, they will tell others how great we are, and they will send clients to us.