Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Customers Will Pay a Premium Price for Great Customer Service

Nothing adds more value to a customer than great customer service


Anyone who knows me knows I am a cheapskate. I have a real hard time spending money on myself. I’m one of those people who will look for the lowest price and buy that item even if the quality isn’t quite what I want.

At least that’s what I’ve always thought. Then something happened to open my eyes to reality.

Since I travel so much I use a laundry service to wash and press my shirts, pants and suits. Fortunately there is a cleaner just around the corner from my home.

Several months ago I noticed this particular cleaner is fairly expensive. My wife told me I could get my shirts cleaned for almost 50% less than what I am paying. But I refuse to change, regardless of the cost savings. At first I thought my hesitancy to switch was out of convenience. The other cleaner is several blocks away, while this cleaner is just around the corner. But the other day when I went to my current cleaner it dawned on me why I am willing to pay more and stick with the cleaner I’m using.

As I walked toward the shop the owner had already pulled my ticket and had the conveyor belt spinning as she looked for my clean clothes. As I entered she smiled broadly and said: “Good morning, Mr. Mac.” She also had a new ticket ready for my dirty load of clothes and had written my name on the top of the ticket. She did all of this after recognizing my car as I pulled into the parking lot.

As I walked out of the cleaner I had a big smile on my face. I realized the way I was feeling at that moment was the reason why I am willing to pay more at my cleaner. I like the way they make me feel. They know me. They make me feel special. They act as if I’m an important customer and they want my business. I don’t know if they treat every customer like that (I like to think that it’s just me), but I certainly notice it and am willing to pay a premium price because of it.

It doesn’t take much to wow your customers. You just have to notice. Notice who they are and what they like. All you have to do is pay attention and do a few minor things that make a difference. It’s the little things that create loyal customers.

The other day, while on a business trip back East, I was in a restaurant waiting for my dinner. I normally order room service but the hotel where I was staying did not have this service. I hate eating alone in a restaurant because it’s boring sitting there staring at the empty table.

On this occasion another waiter (not my own) noticed that I was alone and that I had been waiting for some time for my food. He came over and, in a concerned voice, said: “One of our cooks called in sick today so our service is slower than usual. Can I get you a newspaper to read while you wait?”

Needless to say, I was impressed. I gave him a tip when he came back with the paper.

Several years ago I read a survey where people were asked to identify the one thing that would cause them to take their business elsewhere. The results were surprising. Only 20% of the respondents said they would take their business elsewhere if they were treated “rudely.” But 86% of those surveyed said they would stop doing business with a company if they were treated “indifferently” — as if their patronage was not important.

Most customers are more than willing to pay a premium price for service providers who simply notice them and then proactively respond to their needs without prompting. My cleaner has convinced me of this.

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