Customer service can be simply defined as all interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. (businessdictionary.com) Although what is being sold is very important to the initial success of a company, how you treat your customers who have decided to take a chance and make a purchase of your product can be just as important. A successful business must have repeat business and customer service is the lifeblood that makes this happens. I have been a consumer of many things and the best customer service I always think of is after a day that I will never forget.
It was Christmas Eve and the family was coming over the next day so of course I wanted everything to be perfect. It was the first time I was celebrating Christmas at my place and I was stressed beyond belief. I was preparing what food I knew how to make the best I could and the tree was heavy with decorations. I finally finished up around five o’clock in the early evening and layed down for a well needed nap. I was abruptly awoken not too long after closing my eyes to a sudden pop and the sound of water splashing everywhere. I ran to the laundry room and one of the pipes connected to my water heater had burst and water was going everywhere. I managed to shut the water off rather quickly but the damage had been done. Water was everywhere and headed out into the kitchen. I was panicked for I didn’t know how to fix it and the family, who was staying with me, would be here in less than a day. The only thing I could think was get in the car and pray that some place would be open where I could get the materials necessary to make an attempt to fix this myself.
Two of the biggest names in home improvement are Home Depot and Lowes and I knew that each one had a location nearby so I figured I would start there first. I drove up to Home Depot and stopped at the door and they had just closed their doors for the evening so stepped on the gas and got over to Lowes as quickly as I could. They were still open for a few hours so I was relieved so I ran in and started fumbling around the plumbing department without knowing at all what I was looking for. That’s when an older man with short gray hair, a blue vest and glasses named Dave walked up and asked me if he could help. I explained to him what had happened and he kindly asked me a few questions that he needed answered so he could help me get the tools I would in order to get things fixed. I could tell that he was very knowledgeable about what he was explaining to me and after I told him where the break had occurred he gave me what I would need to get it fixed.
After going home and failing miserably to fix the water heater myself I decided that the only thing I could do was to go back and try to get more materials because what I had wasn’t working for me. Dave was still there but was about to leave when he saw me walk in and came right up to me and asked if I had resolved the problem. I told him the truth that I had no idea what I was doing and I believed that my only option was to cancel Christmas at my place and waste all the hard work I had done. Dave sat for a minute and then told me that he didn’t have to be home right away and said that because I didn’t live to far away he would come over and take a look at it himself and see if he could help me. I explained that it was Christmas Eve and he didn’t need to do that but he insisted and got my address and arrived at my place shortly after I did. Dave came in, assessed the situation and within an hour had everything running smoothly. The problem turned out to be an easy fix for someone like him but the fact that he took time out of his evening on such an important day left an impression on me that I will never forget.
There are eight steps to giving excellent customer service. One, Answer your phone; Two, Don’t make promises unless you can keep them; Three, Listen to your customers; Four, Deal with complaints; Five, Be helpful; Six, Train your staff; Seven, Take the extra step and step eight, throw in something extra. (Susan Ward) Dave definitely took to heart steps five, seven and eight that night and I wrote a letter to the cooperate office letting them know of the excellent service I had received.
“Be Helpful”. Dave walked right up to me and kindly asked if there was anything he could do to help me. He answered all my questions and showed me all the materials I would need to do it myself. “Take the extra step”. He then offered to come to my home and fix the problem himself because he could tell that I had no idea what I was doing. “Throw in something extra”. Dave didn’t even charge me for the time he spent fixing it for me. Although he physically didn’t throw in anything extra, to me, this fits the definition.
Ensuring repeat business is the key to a great business. Excellent customer service equals repeat business. (Morgan B 2009). Without repeat business, the span of a companies life is short and lots of time and energy that was spent getting it started will be wasted.
Hiring the right people for the job is very important. Probably the most important quality one should look for when hiring someone who will represent your product is finding someone with a positive attitude. (itstime.com 2007). Someone’s attitude can immediately affect what someone will think of your product. It doesn’t matter if your product is the best in the market, a negative attitude can easily sway someone in another direction.
The only problem with hiring the right people is that is takes time. Be willing to spend the time to hire the right people for the job and not just hire people to get the product up and running. (Ben Yoskovitz 2007) As important as customer service is, don’t waste time hiring a person that will have to be replaced eventually and who can put a bad taste in someone’s mouth that will spread like wild fire if the person is displeased. Nothing is worse to companies health that a bad reputation so keep a good one by finding the people who will represent your product the best.
On a scale of one to ten, I would definitely give that Lowes location an easy ten. It’s slogan of “Lets Build Something Together” definitely took a literal meaning that day and I have since told my friends of the experience I had that one Christmas Eve. Dave is an asset to that company and I hope the letter that I wrote about him was read not only to him but to his co-workers so that they too can strive to be the best that they can be. Taking pride in your work goes a long way and it is something that should be made an example of.
Admin. Customer Service, Definion. Retrieved by Business Dictionary.Com http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customer-service.html
Ward, Susan. 8 Rules for Good Customer Service, Good Customer Service Made Simple. 2011 (25-74) Retrieved by About.com http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/customerservice/a/custservrules.htm
MorganB. Excellent Customer Service Equals Repeat Business. web Sep 02, 2009 at 10:35 AM PDT. All Voices.com
Admin. It All Starts With Attitude, What Makes Good Customer Service. 2007. web May 30, 2011 Retrieved by http://www.itstime.com/jun2007.htm
Yoskovitz, Ben. Instigator Blog, How Do You Hire the Right People. (20-23). web April, 9 2007.