3 Simple Stories about Great Service
Businesses love to brag about their customer service. But how would you rate the service you typically get at restaurants, retail stores, auto repair shops, hair salons, and the like? How about the service you get on the phone from your cable or credit card company? Or the service you get online when you have trouble paying a bill or need help returning an item you’ve purchased? Would you rate the service you usually receive a 10 out of 10? I doubt it! In fact, research shows the average rating customers give service providers is about 5.5 out of 10. Not much to brag about!
Providing great service seems like it would be simple—treat your customers the way you would want to be treated. But if it’s so simple, how come it’s so rare?
Here are three stories about what great service can do for your customers—and your business.
1. Great Service Turns Customers into Raving Fans. Several years ago, Sheldon Bowles and I wrote a book called Raving Fans. The book’s main message: it’s not enough to satisfy your customers. If you want them to come back, you need to create “raving fans.”
My mother told a great story about raving fan service. One day the ice maker in her refrigerator had a bad water leak. She called several appliance repair companies, but couldn’t get anyone to come out. Then she saw an ad that read “Same day service.” When she called, a friendly voice said, “We’d be happy to fix your refrigerator today, Mrs. Blanchard.” My mother was blown away. The polite repairman showed up later that day and fixed the leak at a reasonable cost. As he was leaving, he handed my happy mother a card and said, “Anytime you have a problem with this refrigerator, you give me a call.”
What do you think my mother was doing for the next three days? She was calling all her friends to tell them about the service she had received—and giving the man’s name and phone number to anyone who would listen. She had become a raving fan.
2. Great Service is a Choice. My friend Harvey Mackay told me a wonderful story about a cab driver who had made a conscious choice to give great service. Harvey was waiting in line for a cab at the airport. When one pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that it was polished to a bright shine. The smartly dressed cab driver jumped out, opened the back passenger door for Harvey, and said, “Hi! I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags, please read my mission statement.” He handed Harvey a card that read:
Wally’s Mission Statement:
To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest,
and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.
When Harvey sat down inside the cab, he noticed the inside was as spotlessly clean as the outside. “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf,” said Wally as he slid into the driver’s seat. “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Sports Illustrated.” As he pulled away from the curb, he handed Harvey another card and said, “These are the radio stations I get and the kind of music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.” He then asked Harvey if he would like to have the air conditioning turned on, and offered to either tell Harvey about the city landmarks as they passed or, if he preferred, let him ride in silence.
Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a taxi cab! I’ve probably told that story to more than 50 cab drivers over the years—but there were only two who took the idea and ran with it. Of course, I have their cards. And whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call.
3. Great Service Begins with Anyone. Everyone can make a difference when it comes to service. For example, when I travel, I often ask for a wake-up call. At most hotels, the call comes and you pick up the phone and nobody is there. Sometimes you get a recording. If you actually get a human being on the other end, you hardly know what to say.
So imagine my surprise when I was at a Marriott in Orlando and picked up the phone one morning and heard, “Good morning, Dr. Blanchard, this is Teresa. It’s seven o’clock! It’s going to be 75 degrees and beautiful in Orlando today—but your ticket says you’re leaving. Where are you going?”
Taken aback, I stammered, “I’m going to New York City.”
Teresa paused and then said, “Oh no! the weather map says it’s going to be 40 degrees and raining in New York City today! Can’t you stay?”
Now where do you think I want to stay when I go to Orlando?
I’ve said for years that if you don’t take care of your customers, somebody else is waiting, ready, and willing to do it. The best competitive edge for a business isn’t their product or their price. It’s how they treat their customers. Make a point of giving your customers a service experience they will remember fondly. You may end up with a story you can brag about!