April 25th, 2008 10:46 EST
Deliver Great Customer Service
Some companies just get it. They are in touch with their customers, they`re people who like people and they understand what it takes to create a good, successful, long-term business relationship with a customer. They understand that a business relationship has a human component and they manage to hit all the bases every time.
Ladin Lincoln Mercury is one of those companies. I`ve been doing business with Gary F(a)ga, the sales manager of that company, for almost 15 years. I`ve bought probably 20 cars, not all of which have been for me. But I`ve bought that many cars from Gary over many years. I`ve made referrals to him and he`s always taken care of us every time we`ve ever needed anything.
Just this week, my daughter, who turned 16 a couple of months ago, was driving a car that we bought from Gary. She went to the car wash and they broke something on the inside of the car, so Ladin ordered a replacement part for her. The part came in, the dealership called and she drove over there to pick it up.
She pulled her car into the line where the service bay starts and another car pulled in behind her. Unfortunately, because it was pretty tight and because the driver behind her didn`t feel like moving, she got stuck in the service area. To help break the logjam of cars that started to build up, the service manager told her that she should drive into the service area - the area, by the way, where there`s a sign that says no customers are allowed. She was told to pull in, turn the car around and then drive out through the back exit.
It`s very tight and she`s a new driver - a bad combination. And in the course of this maneuver, she got nervous and bumped into a little pole.
She called home crying, very upset. It was her first fender-bender and she needed help. We went down to the dealership to find out what happened and to make sure that she was OK. It wasn`t a big deal but I need to help my daughter calm down.
I immediately spoke to Gary and told him about the problem. Gary immediately hugged my daughter, gave her a kiss, told her that everything was going to be okay. He immediately offered to pick up the tab on all of the necessary repairs and have her car back to her ASAP, in perfectly good order.
That was perfect customer service. It`s not about who is right or wrong. It`s not about blame. It`s about taking responsibility. Gary`s people didn`t drive the car into the pole, but they asked a new driver to take a short cut through a part of the dealership where she should not have been driving. And Gary immediately jumped into action and took ownership of the problem.
If more companies operated that way, more companies would have customers like me for 15 or more years. More customers would get zillions of referrals, like I give to Gary. I don`t know what it cost him to have that repaired, but I guarantee it wasn`t more than few hundred dollars. Yet the goodwill that he got from it was immeasurable.
So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, think hard about how much goodwill you get when you do something nice versus how much bad will accrues when you make mountains out of molehills or when you`re more focused on pennies than you are on dollars.
About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit www.joelblock.com or www.growth-logic.com.