Last month, a Fast Company article on customer service grabbed my attention. According to the Forrester Research customer research index, only three percent of brands were ranked as “excellent” when it comes to serving customers. Brands like Nordstrom and Zappos are synonymous with great customer experiences, but what about the others?
A few weeks ago, I did something most of us dread: I took my car to the shop (Midas). I had been having some issues with my exhaust and was tired of hearing my car erupt every time I pressed the gas. I could no longer mask my car’s loud noise by blasting the car stereo. I had been putting my visit off for a while, but now it was time.
Upon arriving, I was greeted by the store manager and I explained the issue with him. I sensed the shop was beginning to get busy and was told that they would take a look within the half hour. During this time, I had a chance to talk to the manager while I was sitting in the waiting area. It was a good conversation because I had a chance to understand the complexities of repairing the exhaust system and how they charge for these repairs. The manager showed me a diagram and his explanation began to make more sense to me. I was beginning to understand that the cost of my repair would depend on the location of the problem. We also talked about cars in general and he told me about some of the cars he worked on in his spare time.
Minutes later, I was told that a small connector pipe was rusted out and need to be repaired. The manager described in detail how this connector pipe works and how they would fix it. He said he needed to order a part and that my car would be ready in a couple hours. Fortunately, the repair would cost just under $100. I walked to a nearby coffee shop and got some work done. When my car was ready, they gave me a call to pick it up.
I left the shop happy that my repair was held to under $100. But I also felt good about my overall customer service and I attribute this to several things:
The store manager had a very service-oriented approach and took the time and had the patience to explain everything in great detail. I could tell he wanted to make sure he answered my questions and that I understood everything. Had my repair bill been higher, I have a strong feeling he’d explain to me the costs involved in the repair. A more expensive repair would not have made me happy, but understanding these costs would at least make me feel more informed.
In the early part of our conversation, the store manager laid out a plan for action, which helped me stay productive. Truthfully, I wanted to grab a coffee at a nearby coffee shop while my repairs were being made. But I also wanted to be there when a diagnosis was made…this would allow me to see the damage and better understand the situation. After a diagnosis was made about 30 minutes into my visit, I headed over to get some coffee and get work done while they were working on my car.
Considering I was not one of the first customers to bring my car into the shop, I felt like my service was fairly quick. By the time the store manager told me they needed to order the part…he had already ordered it online.
About a week later, I mentioned my positive experience to a friend. The following week, I found out she took her car into that same shop and had a good experience. She, too, liked the manager and found her experience to be positive. It made me realize, once again, the importance of word of mouth to a business…and that good customer service is no accident. There’s no doubt in my mind the Midas manager was trained to provide great service…he mentioned this somewhere in our conversation.
As customers, we’re usually hyper-aware of our own experiences when we’re shopping or on the phone. But how about other moments? At a time when we create our personal brand every day with every action we take, it might be worth it to explore how we serve our own clients, friends and colleagues.
How about you…do you own or work in a service-oriented business? How do you provide great customer service to your clients or customers? What’s your secret? What are some of your favorite customer service experiences?
Creative commons photo courtesy of AdamL212