Two years ago, I pulled the plug on one of my telecom providers. Having no other options, I did business with them for 5 years, and hated every minute of every one of our interactions.
Two years ago, a tree trimming company did a poor job pruning my ornamental pear tree, and now it is diseased and suffering. Needless to say, I did not call them back this year, when my tree needed additional care.
Last year, I needed a new server and an upgraded network. The IT company I’d used for 2 years failed to serve me. They told me that my company was “different” from those of their other customers, and made me feel unimportant. I later found out that this IT company loses 25% of their customers every year. I decided to find a new IT company, the owner of which took the time to understand what I was looking for, and built a system to fit my needs. 25 years later, this IT company still retains most of its original customers, which, in the IT world, is almost unheard of.
My wife and I frequent a local restaurant, one of our favorites. The restaurant opened only 5 years ago, and it has survived the recession. How did the owner do it? He keeps a simple and tasty menu, with generous portions for a reasonable cost. He greets every customer by name, and remembers their favorite dishes. He delivers, and he will sell any ingredient for take-home.
These stories share a common theme: Businesses that took care of their customers earned their loyalty, while those who abused their customers drove them away.
My favorite book on customer service is Ari Weinzweig’s Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service: Treating Your Customers Like Royalty.. Buried deep in the book is this observation: