Building Relationships with Great Customer Service

top-of-mind-marketing_relationshipsThese days we’re all stretched pretty thin. We’re working 12-hour days, commuting another two or three and often taking care of both our kids and parents. We get used to road rage, attitude, anger and rudeness. We lower our expectations when we go into stores or restaurants, so we’re pleasantly surprised when a server or sales associate is helpful and courteous, when really, it’s part of his/her job.

Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile

As a business owner, along with our expertise, great service–really exceeding expectations–is what sets us apart. But sometimes it can feel like people have forgotten what this is all about, but I recently had a couple of customer service experiences that knocked my socks off. The result? Two service providers just made a customer for life, and I’ve already referred a few friends to one of them. Their small good-will gestures will reward them many times over, and we can all learn a lesson in relationship-building. And in case you’ve gotten too busy, relationships are how we build our businesses.

JiffyLube had become Joe’s Auto Service

I figured it was about time to take my car in for a tuneup, so I Googled JiffyLube. I’ve recently relocated to St. Helena, so I found one in Napa and drove to Joe’s Auto Service. Hmmmm. A really nice guy came out and I felt pretty stupid asking him if this was JiffyLube, when it clearly wasn’t. His answer: “No, it hasn’t been for about four years.” I was there and needed to have my tires and oil checked so I asked him if he could do that and he could for $64. Great.

He invited me to sit down and have some coffee or water in his sunny waiting area. He returned in about 20 minutes and told me that I only had about a thousand miles since my last oil change and really didn’t need one. I asked him to check the water and tires, etc., and he came back about ten minutes later and handed me my keys. I got out my credit card and he gently pushed my hand away. “There’s no charge.” I was totally floored. This kind of thing never happens anymore, especially when it comes to car stuff—when we all expect to get robbed. I shook his hand and thanked him and told him I’d be back in a few thousand miles. I have also told some friends about this guy and his incredible relationship-building ethic and will continue to share this story with anyone who needs to have his/her car serviced.

A dead battery means a call to AAA

A few weeks later as I got in my car to go home from a friend’s house, I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you turn the ignition and nothing happens. I’d left my lights on. I called AAA in the morning, and they told me they’d be there within an hour. AAA generally calls or texts 15 minutes or so before they arrive, so I was startled when the AAA guy knocked on my door and I wasn’t quite ready to go. “No problem. I’ll just wait.”

I gathered my bag, laptop and jacket and locked up. He held the door for me and because the seat of his truck was a little dirty, he took off his jacket and spread it on the seat so I could sit down. He even waited until I was in, then closed the truck door. I’m totally loving this guy. We drove to my car, he had it running in about two minutes and checked to make sure the battery was strong. He cautioned me not to turn the car off, but to drive for at least an hour to completely recharge the battery. That was it—no paperwork, no hassle. I thanked him for the great service, and he told me it was a family business—they were serious about taking care of their customers.

These two experiences restored my faith in good old-fashioned customer service—the key to building relationships and your business.

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