Customer Service Goes a Long Way

2009 February 10
by Grace Boyle

Customer service. Seems pretty easy, right? Be personal, listen to your customers, follow-up, create a general sense of friendliness and validate why they, your customers, use your service or brand. Unfortunately, I think it’s one of the hardest ‘actions’ to be consistent in.

I’m not talking about fireworks. Sometimes it’s the simple little things that companies do to make their customer feel special. I just experienced one such customer service approach that I had to share:

Since I’ve relocated to Boulder, I’ve been grabbing new doctors, mechanics, and dentists. Through a recommendation, I’ve gone with Boulder Dental Group. I set up a consultation and regular teeth cleaning for next month and within a week I received a large manila envelope from them. Perplexed I tore the envelope open with my bubbling wonderment. Inside was a kind, “welcome” letter that told me exactly what to expect on my first visit to their office (partof this included a tour of the office before my teeth cleaning)! Then with clear branding on some ‘dental SWAG’ they included chapstick, a pen, post-its and a personalized appointment card. Wow.
Not a lot of work to put together, but it made me feel like I made the right choice. It made me feel welcome and it evoked a warm feeling inside of me. Definitely something any small business and especially a Dentist would want to do. Bravo, Boulder Dental Group.

What are some examples of customer service you’ve experienced recently that have wowed you?

February 12th Update: There are a lot of good conversations going on in the comments, including reader’s exceptional experience with customer service and the not to so good ones. Join in!

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  • http://twitter.com/joshclauss Josh Clauss

    And since dentists have now been outed by the federal government as the most profitable businessmen in America, it leaves no excuse for other dentists to begin providing the same service. Considering you're basically paying them to be horrifyingly uncomfortable for hours, a little bit of comfort ahead of time is probably one of the best things they can offer you. Great find.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Josh Haha, it's so very true. I for one, am not scared of the Dentist but I know a lot of people that are. I feel like the little effort it took to put this together, should be reasonable for each Dentist to start doing (in their own way, of course). Thanks for stopping by, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I felt it was too interesting to not post.

  • http://SeeDivaRun.com Jodie Kelley

    Our veterinarian provides amazing customer service. I am convinced that our dogs receive better health care than most humans. Perhaps it is because they aren't hamstrung by insurance rules, but they actually listen to us. They also call us within 24 hours after any visit, even if it is just for boarding, to make sure that they are doing well and that there are no problems or complications. If I have a question or concern, I know I will receive a call before the vet goes home, even if it is at 8pm. My doctor is good, but he isn't that good.

    Another example that really shocked me was on a trip to New Orleans. We arrived late, and in the interest of convenience and economy we opted to spend the first night at a Sheraton Four Points near the airport. I'm an elite level in their loyalty program, so they welcomed us with free bottled water, free internet and fresh baked (still warm) cookies. When we moved to the Westin, which is part of the same hotel group, I paid $100 more per night, $13 for my internet connection, and the bottled water was $4.50. I did get a gold colored folder for my key, to acknowledge my elite status. I won't be returning to the New Orleans Westin, but will gladly stay at the Four Points.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Jodie Excellent examples, thanks so much for sharing. I've heard about veterinarian's treating their animals better than humans felt they've been treated at Doctor offices.

    As for the hotel, when the customer service is heightened it makes all the difference. Price starts to diminish, as long as they provide something like fresh baked cookies or even a note on your pillow about how they're glad you're there. Thanks for stopping by Jodie, and the Lijit fam is glad you're Lijit searching with us too!

  • http://modite.com/blog Rebecca

    I don't have any great wow stories at the moment, but I can say as I call around to service providers (analytics, email marketing, pr firms, etc.), I'm quickly turned off by anyone who is the slightest bit mean. It's really hammered home the point, “You can never have a bad day.”

    I also recently ordered a poster from a favorite niche designer who also blogs, but I never got it. I emailed her today and she was also mean, like it was my fault I didn't get it! She said she would send me a new one, but now I don't even want it.

    Okay… thanks for the vent-fest. 😉

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Rebecca as we know, we're BOTH good at venting, dishing and listening (by now)!

    I completely agree with you. I just don't understand why anyone has to be mean or rude, there's definitely a nice way to say no anyway. I have particularly found this to be true with PR. Secondly, it's all about the customer. Without them, you wouldn't have the sale or revenue, so why belittle them? Thanks for sharing your stories, Rebecca! Come and vent anytime :)

  • http://www.whosyourgladys.com Marilyn Suttle

    I'm impressed with the companies that put real effort into recovery – when customer service goes wrong. It's a great way to create an emotional connection with customers.

    One person I'm particularly impressed with is Peggy Wynne Borgman who runs Preston Wynne Spa. When customers are unhappy, they don't just tell their friends, they go onto online review sites like yelp.com and complain. Peggy keeps track of what's being said about her company, and when a negative review shows up, websites like yelp give business owners a way of anonomously contacting the complainer.

    When I interviewed Peggy for my upcoming customer service book, she shared that she will contact the unhappy customer, apologize, and often offer a do-over. Sometimes she'll ask unhappy customers if they would like to be a secret-shopper and privately rate the service.

    In every case, the review site complainers changed their reviews without ever being asked to do so by Peggy. She is so attentive to the happiness of her customers, that she makes a habit of doing everything she can to turn around an unhappy ones.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Marilyn Very interesting, thank you for sharing! I would love to hear more about your customer service book that you're putting together, when is it set to be released?

    You bring up a very good point about Yelp and the reviews that certain services (such as a spa) can monitor. I think it's important to gauge what people are saying online about your service. By allowing them the luxury of writing what they think but also being honest, accepting the mistake, offering a do-over, to be a secret-shopper and of course, an apology. This is great, Marilyn!

  • http://www.whosyourgladys.com Marilyn Suttle

    Thanks for asking Grace. The title is:

    “Who's Your Gladys? How to Turn Even Your Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan”

    It's being released Sept 09 by AMACOM Books. Ten great companies like Preston Wynne Spa, Signapore Airlines, and others shared their most intimate details about how they handle customer service. Gladys is our poster child (a real customer – name changed of course) who went from “difficult” to an avid supporter of the company. My coauthor and I have been blogging at http://www.lovethemup.com and just started our new blog http://www.whosyourgladys.com. I'd love to have you stop by and visit.

    This blog of yours Grace, is awesome – it's got a great feel, and interesting posts. Thanks!

  • http://www.whosyourgladys.com Marilyn Suttle

    Thanks for asking Grace. The title is:

    “Who's Your Gladys? How to Turn Even Your Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan”

    It's being released Sept 09 by AMACOM Books. Ten great companies like Preston Wynne Spa, Signapore Airlines, and others shared their most intimate details about how they handle customer service. Gladys is our poster child (a real customer – name changed of course) who went from “difficult” to an avid supporter of the company. My coauthor and I have been blogging at http://www.lovethemup.com and just started our new blog http://www.whosyourgladys.com. I'd love to have you stop by and visit.

    This blog of yours Grace, is awesome – it's got a great feel, and interesting posts. Thanks!

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