A few weeks ago I had an unexpected, but pleasant experience in creating customer loyalty. In fact, I had the good fortune to experience this twice in just a few short weeks. And it was a great feeling. Interestingly enough, the experience was not due to any technological advancement that took the user experience to an all time high. The experience was due to service delivered for car repairs of all things. But the lesson in customer service is universal in its application, especially for companies relying on technology to help support their customer service efforts.
The first occurred when my wife took her car to a small yet established auto repair shop, Euro Connection in Dallas. A turn signal lamp had burned out, and due to the make of car I was not able to easily perform my shade tree mechanic repairs I like to do. The dealership wanted $65 to change the bulb (almost all labor). So off to the independent shop she went. The owner Nino Papadopoulos said he would fix it while she waited, and so she did. But when all was said and done, he would not take any money for his efforts, not even for the cost of the bulb! “No big deal” he said “it’s only a light bulb.” You can bet I will remember him the next time I need auto repairs.
The second came a few weeks later when a neighbor accidentally backed into my son’s parked car. Big Ford Expedition, meet little Honda Civic. Round one goes to the Ford with Honda being the loser. With 120,000 miles on the Honda, there were already a number of dents and dings in other areas we had decided not to fix, even though the car was in great mechanical shape. Estimated cost to repair the accident damage; $1900. With damage appraisal in hand (and insurance company check), off we went to another local independent repair shop, Orbit Automotive owned by Curtis McCarty in Dallas. No problem, they will take care of it. They also cut me a deal to repair the other areas of damage at a reduced personal cost since those repairs were not part of the accident. It was only a couple of hundred dollars additional.
One week later we pick up the Honda, looking better than when we bought it. And when it came time to pay for the extra repairs, the owner would not take the additional money. “Don’t worry about it”, he said. While I hope to never need his fine body repair services in the future, you can safely bet they will be the first I call if necessary.
One act of customer service was rather small, the other slightly bigger. Yet each significantly impressed me.
Neither required Herculean effort on their part, but the undeniable theme was to do a little extra for the customer. As a company providing IVR hosted services and mobile solutions we constantly ask ourselves what can we do to improve our customer’s satisfaction. And in many cases it really comes down to the small items. A tweak to a custom report, a referral to another company for a need outside our core competencies, or just a suggestion on how to improve a speech recognition application based on work performed for another client.
Sometimes these small acts have as much impact as a large-scale effort or even a business concession. Typically selfless acts, no matter how small, almost always pay dividends going forward.