The customer is always right, so the saying goes. That needs to be the guiding principle of your relationship with clients. Caveat emptor is Latin for let the buyer beware, meaning the buyer assumes the risk in a transaction. You want to be the complete antithesis of this. One of the greatest examples of customer service I have ever heard of was at a Nordstrom’s department store.
To begin, the retail chain places an enormous amount of time and effort into pleasing their customers. Their adage is to be willing to say “Yes!” every time. Nordstrom is so customer-focused that it once refunded a customer for a tire purchase even though the company, of course, has never sold tires. Classic.
When I first heard of Drybar and their product niche, I found it hard to believe that it could survive as an ongoing concern. How wrong was I? Who would think that someone would pay $40 to have their hair washed and blown dry? Reminder, no cut or color. Essentially a place for women (I did not see a male customer in any of their videos) to meet, have a drink, and relax. What is their key to franchise success? Customer Service. A fantastic customer experience at every single touchpoint. From the efficient booking process to the dozens of details that define a Drybar location; romantic comedies on flat screens and custom-designed chairs. Every aspect of the experience has received special attention. One hundred franchises and growing.
The other old adage is that you can’t please everybody all the time. However, some businesses like Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airlines focuses on customers who have had bad experiences. If you are running a business, you know how hard it is to have that conversation with a hostile customer.
Branson proactively engages the unhappy passenger and often uses the client to help solve the problem and recommend solutions that the airline will incorporate into their services. According to Branson, “A complaint is indeed a gift. If you can win over your upset customers, your business success will know no bounds.”
When my son hit a golf ball through the window of my truck, I had my first experience with Safelite Autoglass. I will say that this type of business that involves a customer who is already somewhat agitated, albeit not at the auto glass company, can only get better for both parties. One call to Safelite and they made it all happen. You’ve seen the commercials. They take your insurance information and schedule the repair at your house or wherever the broken windshield is. You don’t even have to be there. Customer service doesn’t get any better than this. Did I mention that there was no cost for any of this? I wonder what USAA and other auto insurers think of this. After all, they are footing the bill. Safelite credits its competitive advantage to a proprietary hiring model, special training, and ultimately to focus on customer satisfaction.
While these examples have been larger businesses and a franchise, you can still modify the model to fit your small company. We will look at more examples of stellar customer service in Part 2 of this article.