(This article was originally published in the York County Coast Star, September 2012)
Amazon.com’s founder and CEO recently published the company’s mission statement in an open letter to all their customers. In it, Amazon proclaimed that their “vision is to be the Earth’s most customer centric company.” That’s quite a proclamation and based on the list of customer service awards they have received, they may well be it.
Their mission got me thinking: what does it take to demonstrate that you are customer centric? It’s easy to say and frankly many companies often make this claim (who would ever say they were not?), but most fall short. The bravado from the C-Suite often doesn’t filter down to the manager or worker that deals directly with the customer. But that said, I began to think of the times I experienced great service—not just the kind you’d expect when you’re dropping your hard earned cash down at the register, but service that was so memorable that it converted me into a loyal, long term customer. So here are my top 3:
- House of Doherty: As a young 27 year old about to start my first professional job, I needed a new suit. Someone told me to try Doherty’s, a small men’s shop catering to the who’s who of business people in this community. With a bit of intimidation, my wife and I entered the shop and were wowed from the start as they made us feel like we were the most important customers they had. They could have ignored us, as we were obviously not on par with the rest of their top shelf clients. But, they didn’t. We were treated like gold. They provided me superb tailored apparel, expert advice on professional fashion, an inventory of all my purchases, outstanding service, and real friendship. I remained a loyal customer for over two decades until the owner passed and the shop closed. I have never found another shop like it.
- Ritz Carlton Hotels: When you stay at the Ritz you expect fine service—but nothing prepared my wife and I for this. As we entered the hotel we were greeted by name (how did they know who we were?), given a cold drink, and escorted to the front desk. We were given a great room with a terrific view, but it had one problem. The A/C from a nearby building was a bit loud, disturbing our vacation tranquility. Hesitant to complain, I mentioned it to the clerk, who jumped into action mode finding us a better room, but it wasn’t what we wanted. Undeterred, she found us a second room, but again, it wasn’t right. Unfortunately, there were no other rooms available—we thought. Unbeknownst to us, the manager was informed and he promptly righted the situation. He sent someone to find us at the pool and offered us a magnificent suite with breath-taking views. It was perfect. And to top it off, on our last day as we prepared to leave, we found in our room a plate of candy with a message of drizzled chocolate saying “We’ll Miss You!” along with a hand written note from the pool staff. That’s putting on the Ritz.
- Prime Motors: I just bought a new car (lucky me!). It was a hard decision deciding between two cars in two different dealerships. When I ultimately made the decision, I called the dealer. Rather than tell me to come in to fill out the paperwork before picking up the car, he delivered the car to my home that very evening and then spent nearly two hours reviewing the features with me and programming the navigational system. I was impressed and will buy from him again.
Great customer service brings significant bottom line results. Customer loyalty is critical to business success and with it comes repeat business. People talk about their positive experiences (and sometimes write articles) and that’s an essential element in building a consummate reputation and brand buzz. And ecstatic customers make referrals, the backbone of any growing business. If you’re not getting referrals, your business is in trouble.
Amazon proclaims they will be the Earth’s most customer centric company. Yet all companies have the ability to achieve similar distinctions regardless of their size. Passion, a commitment to serve the customer and the desire to not just meet, but exceed their expectations is what makes the difference. Do that and you could be the Earth’s best.
What are you doing for your customers? Write in and maybe we can feature you in an upcoming article.
Rick Dacri is a workforce expert, management consultant, and author of the book “Uncomplicating Management: Focus On Your Stars & Your Company Will Soar.” Since 1995 his firm, Dacri & Associates has helped organizations improve individual and organizational performance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.dacri.com.
Readers are encouraged to send comments, questions and ideas for future articles to Rick Dacri at email@example.com.