As background, know that I'm a bicyclist, and as such, I use "clipless" pedals that allow cleats on the bottoms of my shoes to lock in (it helps make the pedal stroke more efficient). I bought my first set of this type of pedals in 1990 and converted the shoes I'd purchased two years earlier to work with them. And in the last 20 years, I've never been able to get the cleats aligned right on any other pair of shoes and, hence, I'm still wearing 20 year old shoes!
You should know too that I've patronized the same bicycle shop (store A) for over 20 years and they've taken extremely good care of me. However, even though I bought a couple pairs of shoes from them over the years, they never once offered to adjust the cleats to match my existing shoes.
Enter my new "client," a bike store (store B) nowhere near my house but close to my favorite coffee haunt. When I mentioned my shoe dilemma to an employee of store B, without a second of hesitation, he suggested I bring in my old shoes for them to measure using digital calipers and they would mount the new cleats on my new shoes, even though I hadn't purchased the shoes from them.
Though the salesman I talked to wasn't there when I returned, another guy who had heard my sad story was and he not only remembered my problem, he remembered my name. I checked back in a few hours later and, for the first time in 20 years, walked out with a pair of new shoes with properly aligned cleats. For this service, they charged me the outrageous fee of $4.00!
On the surface, this wasn't really a big deal. Yes, store B ended 20 years of frustration which for me, was huge. But where they scored more points was 1) offering to work on shoes they hadn't sold, 2) having an employee who wasn't even dealing with me remember my face, my name, and my problem, and 3) solving my problem quickly, happily, and enthusiastically while at the same time never trying to sell me another pair of shoes or anything else in the store. In other words, exceptional customer service that I will happily tell the world about.
I'll still patronize store A, but I'll likely visit store B more as well. In my eyes, they rank #1 and #1A. And I'll certainly tell more people about my extremely positive experience at store B. And the word of mouth advertising I provide will have a greater impact than any newspaper ad, radio spot, direct mail, banner ad, or online review. And it didn't cost them a dime!
The moral? You, your staff, your product, and/or your service can produce the best possible advertising for any business, absolutely free.
(Oh, and for all the other advertising that isn't free, like print, direct mail, radio, TV, and web, drop me a line!~)
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