We all know that service industries rely on good customer service to survive. As a service provider, in order to stand out from your competitors, going that extra mile to look after your clients can make a big difference to your business growth and success. After all, your customers will talk about you if they receive an above average experience as well as a below average service. However, how often are you so taken aback by good customer service that you want to tell everyone about it? Probably not that often. Yet, doing that little bit extra to make your customers feel special can be so simple, there should be no excuse for every business not to make an effort.
Here is a great example of excellent service that I experienced just last week. Whilst organising a friend’s Stag party, I came across a small business called F5karting who provide Land Yachting experiences and tuition in Scotland. I made a booking with them for an afternoon of Land Yachting for my stag party guests. However, a few days before the booked date, we received an email from F5karting to say that the weather forecast for that day was for “no wind”. No wind means no land yachting; we were very disappointed. I called Carol-Ann at F5karting to discuss the implications. She offered us an alternative date, which was not suitable for our party, so instead she spent a few hours telephoning several other outdoor activity providers to find us an alternative activity based on our (quite demanding) needs at very short notice. We had not paid a deposit when booking with F5karting and when I asked Carol-Ann if she got commission for referring us to other activity providers she said “No, I use these situations as a good opportunity to network with other companies”. So, despite not receiving any money for a lost booking and receiving no commission for referring us to another company, she still went out of her way to ensure were catered to in a very courteous, cheerful manner. She even negotiated a 50% discount on our behalf with the company who took us out for an afternoon of outdoor sports activities. That is what I call good customer service. Then to my surprise, I received a text message on my phone, the day after our booking, from Carol-Ann at F5karting, asking if we had had a good day of activities with the other company.
Carol-Ann used some basic principles of good customer service in a highly skilled and effective manner in order to ensure that I had a positive experience:
- Being polite, courteous and positive at all times, despite not making a sale
- Being creative and resourceful when finding alternatives to replace a service she could no longer provide
- Acting as a liaison when referring us to another company
- Negotiating preferential rates for the services provided by the other company to add value
- Following up on the referral to ensure we received good service from the referred company
As a result of missing out on the Land Yachting we wanted, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, I am more keen than ever to book a session with Carol-Ann. This is not just because Land Yachting looks like great fun, but because I feel like she did me a huge favour by working hard to make sure my stag party guests got the day of fun they were expecting. Thus a negative situation, in this case the F5karting no longer being able to deliver an agreed service, was turned into a positive one.
What have I learned from this? Taking a few minutes to think about your customer and exceeding their expectations costs very little, but in the end will make your customers feel compelled or maybe even obligated to return to you for repeat business. Even small gestures can make the difference between customers feeling like they had an amazing experience, rather than just a good experience. Even though you may not get a sale from the customer on every occasion, by giving them a positive memory of your business they may well return in the future.