Monday, August 08, 2005

Customer service

The other day I ran into a convenience store to get a couple cans of beer. I know that's ironic as there is probably the equivalent to 1,000 bottles of beer in the house, but they are all in bottles or kegs. I needed a 16 oz. can so that I could stick a chicken on it and roast it on the grill. And I didn't want to buy a whole six pack when I was only cooking two chickens.

After spending the day cooking and cleaning, I didn't look my most attractive -- hair pulled back, no make-up, comfty t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. On the door there was a big sign that read, "We card everyone under 30." Of course, this didn't apply to me. I don't think I looked under 30 when I was under 30.

Even though there is no mistaking me for a 20-something, the guy at the counter asked to see some ID. He was a little bit of an older guy and my response was "bless you" as I immediately whipped out my ID to show him I have been legal since 1991. It made my day and gave me a big smile, but got me thinking -- if you did that to all your female customers in a certain age range, you could probably win several loyal customers. I know I'll go back there!

It also made me think about the issue with our tree. Out of the half dozen folks who I called, only one acted like he wanted the job and he was the only one to show up to look at the tree. Because my friend Karen highly recommended him, not only did he get the job of taking down the tree, we hired him to move our back fence, in effect doubling his revenue from one customer. As many marketers will say, it's not all about increasing the number of new customers, but also about increasing revenue from existing customers. It costs a lot more to secure new customers than it does to increase sales from existing ones.

It amazed me how many folks didn't seem to want the job. Then again, maybe it didn't. We seem to encounter bad customer service several times a week. Just last week I called the place where Doug won the travel gift certificate in the poker tournament. I wanted to ask about the certificate, explore our options, and have her look into a trip to Napa over Labor Day weekend. The lady I talked to said she wanted to price out some options and would call me back. Five days later and she still hasn't called. Unfortunately, our extra vacation money was spent on the tree and the fence, so I just booked a trip to my backyard for the holiday weekend. Still, it makes me mad that she didn't call me back when she said she would and if I didn't have this gift certificate to use, I wouldn't book travel through her.

But if I could, I would book my travel through the guy who asked to see my ID -- at least he knows what customer service is about.

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