A couple months ago I was headed out of town on a road trip when my husband noticed the air in one of my tires was low. It didn’t take long for him to find a shiny nail lodged in my tire. Although I likely would have been fine, he didn’t feel comfortable with me driving over the snowy pass without having it fixed first. I was already running late and knew I needed to go somewhere that could get me in and out quickly, so we headed to Les Schwab Tires. For the record, I wasn’t a current customer went there because of its proximity to my house.
Several employees greeted me as soon as I walked through the door and made sure to get me on my way in no time. What surprised me most about my experience, however, wasn’t that my tire was repaired and ready to go before I could take a seat, but that the service representative would not charge me for the repair. What?!? She simply asked that I would keep them in mind the next time I needed tires. Did you catch that?
Here’s what my experience taught me: true service builds trust, and trust creates loyalty. Let me explain. I, the non-customer, sought out assistance from a company I had no intention of giving my long-term business to. I strictly had an immediate need that needed to be filled, and convenience directed me through their front door. I was more than willing to pay for the patchwork and be on my way. Yet, I was completely blindsided by their level of service to me. Their action, though small in cost, turned me into a lifetime customer. Let me break that down further- they spent a few dollars to serve me, which will turn into me spending more money on them this fall because of one small gesture.
What humbled me the most is that they served me. I didn’t need the charity nor was I expecting it. Their service won my trust, which has now earned my loyalty. As consumers we are trained to believe that businesses serve us strictly because we give them money. Unfortunately, this is commonplace and many businesses operate under this mentality. However, those that are killing it in customer experience understand the true purpose of customer service is to serve.
What would business look like if we fully embraced this mindset and truly served our customers? What if we viewed our customers as individuals rather than dollar signs? Authenticity is easy to identify and will win over your customer every time. How you serve your customer will look different depending upon the market you are in. However, true service is a universal principal and can be applied to any organization.
Accessibility is important; ease of accessibility even more so. Have a presence where your customers are. Going to them rather than expecting them to come to you will set you apart. Are your customers online? Then make sure you are too. Are your customers elderly and less tech inclined? Offers traditional support channels that they are accustomed to. And most importantly, be social! Leverage the power of social media to your best ability. Different customers use different platforms- learn how to use them and provide accessibility and utility.
Equip Your Employees
There’s nothing more frustrating than needing assistance and not having a knowledgable individual to assist you. Can you imagine calling your car insurance agent to ask questions about your claim and them know nothing about insurance? Equip your employees to be product experts. Make training a priority so that when your customer does need assistance, anyone can easily help them.
Nurture Your Relationships
When you can, and where necessary, go above and beyond to nurture relationships with your customers. Find unique ways to show you value their loyalty. At Bristlecone Holdings, we encourage our Concierge team build long-lasting relationships with our customers. For example, one of our employees learned that a customer lost his dog. After the call ended, she sent a handwritten card to him and his family expressing sympathy. Fortunately this story has a happy ending and the customer was reunited with his beloved pet. I received wonderful feedback from this customer, who expressed his appreciation and surprise of our company’s support. One simple card established a loyal customer.
Service is a mindset and must be embraced by leadership in order to be authentic and effective. The more you serve your customers, the more trust you will create, which translates to customer loyalty. How are you serving your customers? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment or send me a tweet!