Our businesses are built on customer service, we pride ourselves in offering it. In the business world many businesses label what should be a standard as good customer service. First, we need to understand what the standard is. Returning text or phone calls within 24 hours, following up on the phone with a customer to get an order, delivering catalogs before the deadline. Delivering products to elderly or handicapped customers instead of requiring them to pick it up. These are all examples of the standard, or also labeled the “givens”, something that is good service, a part of doing business. These should not be something we should be bragging about they are a natural part of doing business.
Taking it a bit farther, looking for opportunities to exceed the standard and give a little bit extra is what we should be striving for. This is what we like to call good customer service, or giving an extra inch. Good customer service = profit. It is something that makes money for you, doesn’t cost you money.
Let me tell you about a company that gives that extra inch. There is a boot company in Canada that sells warm winter boots. When you purchase a pair of boots, they apply the water proofing for free. This kind act of service takes an extra 25 minutes to perform. This requires the customer to wait an extra 25 minutes, something that most customers are not excited about. How does this small boot shop go the extra inch and make the customer happy about waiting? They offer them a coupon for a FREE muffin and coffee across the street at the little coffee shop. Now this little act of extra probably hasn’t cost the boot shop very much in actual cost, but the impression it has given to the customer is HUGE and strengthens the relationship of the customer and business enough that it fuels the customer to tell their friends about the service. This is called giving an extra inch. Letting your customers know that you care about them and their time and lives matter to you. Not just the dollar figure that they represent.
When you give in inch your customers become a sales force for you. They tell their friends about the relationship and the services that you offer to them, because they love the way they are treated.
What are some ways to offer an inch? As a representative you need to take notice of the opportunities to serve your customers. Listen to them, ask for their input. You can’t help them if you don’t know the situations they are dealing with. They will share with you the difficulties and joys in their lives and then you can find ways to serve them to offer your help.
Here’s a couple of ideas for you.
- Find out the birthdays of your customers. On their birthday send a postcard, a text, a personal message or phone call to wish them happiness, it is a simple gesture, but it will be noticed.
- If your customer is interested in a product and you happen to have that product, share a sample with her. Doing this is giving an extra inch to her. She will appreciate the gesture and probably end up ordering the product.
- If your customer has a very busy day and isn’t available or stressed about getting her order picked up, deliver it instead. She will appreciate you even more.
- If your customer has a sick child, or family member at home. Drop off a soup supreme and a few hot rolls for a dinner. You will make a lasting impression as a friend.
- If your customer has celebrations, deaths or other life changing occurrences happening in their lives, take notice and offer your assistance. You could drop off a card, goodie plate to share or your help. Be a friend! Let them know they mean something more to you than just an order.
Make your customers happy! Do your customer feel like just another number? Customer service trumps everything else, they will shop with you because of the relationship you have established with them. Put your customers at the heart of everything you do! Your competitor, is not doing it. Other companies may surpass you in price, but your relationship will be your driving force.
Maximize your relationship, not your transactions! Nothing speaks more about your business than the way you treat your customers. Your happy customers will be your best advertising! Go on find a way to give an inch! You’ll be happy you did it and your customers will love you!
Stacee Izatt RSM