Would You Do THIS For Your Customer?

...what sets you apart from the competition?

When I was just a young lad I remember when my mother bought her first car, a 1970 Ford Maverick. It was white with a red plaid “Landau” roof; just a fancy term for a car roof style with a layer of vinyl.

do this for your customer

Note: Remember years ago when all those monkeys were ripping off and eating the Landau roofs from the cars in Great Adventure Amusement Park in New Jersey?

Anyway…back to my story.

We went everywhere in that car. The only problem was that, as a new driver, Mom was so focused on watching the other cars that she was not able to look at the street lights or stop signs. That’s where I came in. I went everywhere with her. I was a great co-pilot and we took a long car trip on every 3-day weekend possible. But how did we know how to get to our destinations in the days prior to GPS satellites or Mapquest?

We went to the corner gas station.

Back then the station owner always actually worked in the station and didn’t treat it as an investment.  But he did make an investment in his customers.

My mom would ask him the best way to drive to Virginia for example, from our home in New York, and he was happy to help.

He would take a map from the rack in the store; all gas stations had road maps of the neighboring states for sale, and would use two different colored markers to plan the route. One color for the way there and another for the way back.

He would then give her the phone number for “Triple A” and told her to call them if we were ever lost. He also recommended we should sign-up for “Triple A” in case we were ever stuck or the car broke down.

The amazing part of this story is that his maps and planned routes were always great. We used his “mapping service” for years until we were able to figure out for ourselves how to get around the East Coast.

These were great bonding times for Mom and me and as youngster I got to visit more states and tourist attractions than most of my friends did. I don’t remember ever getting lost. Now, of course, we probably did but I don’t remember.

Could you ever imagine the local gas station doing something like this today?

Of course not. Either the station is manned by some teenager that barely looks you in the eye when speaking to you or by someone that couldn’t care less about making you a long term customer.

This was 40 years ago and I still remember his kindness.

This is what sets apart “customer service” as done years ago versus the impostor we deal with today.

[Tweet “There must be one thing that differentiates YOUR business from the competition. “]

One is all you need.  Why only one?  Because most businesses are nothing more than cookie-cutter copies of those around them and don’t make any efforts to be memorable.

Nothing to show you are special, nothing to make you want to come back because of how you are taken care of, nothing deserving of YOUR business.

Isn’t time you change that?

How many memories of great customer service, or ways it has changed, can you remember from “days gone by”?

➤Leave a comment below and add to the discussion, thanks.

Copyright © 2018 Steve DiGioia

► Like this post? Share it with friends on Twitter & Facebook. If you agree or disagree and have something to say about this post - I'd love to hear it. Leave a comment below... __________________________________________________________

6 thoughts on “Would You Do THIS For Your Customer?

  1. I was the General Manager of a small one star B&B Inn, way back in the Good Old Days. On one specific occasion that I remember very clearly, we had an elderly couple checking in together with their daughter and a Rotary Exchange Student from Australia. I heard a vehicle really wheezing to get up to our Entrance and went to investigate, as we were not on a steep uphill. Much to my horror, I saw this lovely, new, Green Audi billowing smoke out of the bonnet like a steam train. I hastened over to the car, to find a very red-faced gentleman, who was so obviously trying to keep control over his temper, whilst the three ladies in the vehicle were chattering away like magpies with all sorts of suggestions – none of them helpful – and only managing to upset the poor Gent even more! I yelled for my Induna – Boss Boy and for Johnny, our Tractor Driver to come to me at haste. I introduced myself to the party, politely requested for all to step out of the car, and come up to the hotel for something cool to drink. I issued instructions to my Induna to get the Tractor to hitch up the car and pull it into the premises where it would be safe.

    That taken care of, I went in search of my party whom I had quite rightly identified as the party I was waiting for. There they were sitting on my vast, cool porch with a beautiful view, still squabbling like magpies! I hastily placed an order for drinks all round, hauled out my trusty notepad – just shows many years of being an unflappable P/A does have its advantages – got them all to quiet down, slowly tell me what all the hysteria was about so that I could start making plans to get them up and running again. Firstly, I had to ascertain what was wrong with the vehicle and if there was someone nearby who could fix it. To this end I phoned the Owner, who also happened to be the Mayor , of the only service station in the little town closest to us – luckily he was a VW & Audi Agent. He was rather snowed under with work, however when I said that I would send my Induna in my personal vehicle to collect him and return him, all protests died away. With a plan of action already starting to take place, I went on to tackle the Next Major Crises in these peoples’ plans! Turned out that they had managed to secure reservations in the Kruger National Park – and it was easier to find Hen’s Teeth than to get into the Park at that period.
    The Guests had already paid a few thousand rand up front to secure their reservation in the Kruger National Park and would forfeit all this money if they did not arrive as scheduled. To make matters even worse, no matter what these people tried, the Parks Board Reservation System refused to listen to reason on our explaining the situation regarding the car to them and would not let them adjust their arrival by a day later, even when the guests in question said that not only had they paid up front, but that were prepared to pay a penalty fine imposed as they had promised this Rotary Exchange Student a tour of the Park. All round I found this a nightmare in Public Relations and such a bad reflection on South African Hospitality.
    Well, to get back to the Car – the part that had blown was some type of cylinder head gasket and they were not a standard stock item held anywhere in South Africa. So, not at all daunted, I reached out some feelers to my contacts, friends of friends of friends, and spread the news – Whoever found the specific part was to purchase it, let me know and I would send my Induna to meet them. In return, I offered a complimentary weekend stay, D/B/B, welcome cocktail on arrival, and a bottle of wine with Saturday Dinner. I wasn’t really losing very much because I only served buffets over weekends, wasn’t full and I knew the type of person who would go in search of a motor car part, was the type of chap who liked his beers and brandy and coke, and those were most certainly not on the house.
    As it turned out, we located a part for the Audi, however it only arrived at 23h00 p.m. The Garage owner agreed to meet us at 06h00 a.m. to start the repair, which he said would only be completed by around 13h00.
    Over and above this, I remembered having dealt with someone higher up in the hierachy of the National Parks Board so I took my chances and telephoned in with the demand to speak to this Person and no-one else. I was very pushy and very authoritarian and Extremely English. Those were still the days that they were civil servants and couldn’t string two english words together. I eventually got through to my contact, explained the situation to him and he was awfully apologetic for all the trauma my guests had been put though. He duly drafted a Telex Message to the Kruger National Park, which he copied me in on, and he tore a strip of the staff! They were also given their stay in the Park at half-price and the Rotary Exchange Student received so many gifts, that she thought that her second Christmas had come!
    I never loaded my Hotel Bill in anyway, there were no hidden charges, in fact I didn’t even charge them for my petrol or all the phone calls. I personally carried all the charges – it had become a matter of pride. Our world renowned Kruger National Park treating guests like that, I had to restore faith in our country somehow!And I did, about a month later I got a letter from the Hotel Board congratulating me on my actions, and informing me that they were coming to do an inspection and re-grading since I had taken Over! One of my Proudest Moments – a 3* , Yes, three star facility within 6 months. Service with a great big South African Smile!!!!

    • Lorna,

      Thanks you so much for your fantastic story. One of the most supreme ways to “WOW” a guest is to do something so out of the ordinary that they would never expect it.

      You certainly fit this with your actions. No wonder you were recognized for your efforts, well done!

      Now THAT’S how to take care of a customer. Thanks again Lorna.

  2. Steve,
    We have reversed initials in our names.
    I sign my S’s and G’s the same way you do.
    I like that.
    Small thing but yeah.

  3. My Dad was a great handyman around the house and he had a great hardware store he went to for all his fix-it needs. I remember going with him on several occasions and the fellows behind the counter would walk you right to the tool, or part, or paintbrush that he needed for the job. It didn’t stop there…they explained the features and benefits (whoops, my Disney experience slipping out there!) and the correct way to work with whatever gadget was being purchased! On top of that, even though I was pretty young, I found tools and gadgets and how things worked very interesting- and I still do. Talk about customer service! That’s why I work to keep my customers happy and try every option I can think of to help them find their books, or supplies, or whatever they have come and visited the store for – even information!

    • That’s how customer service worked years ago. There was no other option, you HELPED your customer. No self-serve checkouts, you didn’t have to bag your groceries, or put your own milk in your coffee. The store would assist, no, insist on doing it.

      Ah, the good old days. Thanks Lisa.

Comments are closed.