Sweat The Small Stuff

In great affairs men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small things they show themselves as they are.
– Nicholas Chamfort, French Author (1741 – 1794)

More often than not it’s the little things that make a big difference in customer satisfaction and brand loyalty
– Michael P. Morales, Customer Service advocate and blogger

Here is a real life quote from a recent experience with a car dealership I called for post sales support. (With major attitude): “I’m busy selling cars. You’re not my daddy. I will call you back when I can get to it”. Yes, Tony at Antioch Mazda actually said that to me when I called him. Upon my initial call to the dealership I spoke with Tony, posed my question and he promised me a call back “within 15 minutes” with my answer. After more than an hour passed without a call I called Tony who made it clear to me that 1) he was a very successful car salesman, 2) that I was not his daddy (thank God), and 3) there were no guarantees I would ever hear from him with my answer.

With three sentences comprised of 19 words Tony had turned a relatively satisfied customer into an ex-customer. I eventually got my answer by calling the General Sales Manager who also seemed glad to know that I was not Tony’s daddy. But the damage was done and this small exchange with Tony left me with two thoughts; I’m glad that I have so many options when it comes to car buying; and what a bummer it must be to be Tony’s real daddy…

Here is another real life quote from another recent experience. This time with a car wash and detail company in Livermore. “Hello Mr. Morales. It is nice to see you again. I hope you are satisfied with the wax job and headlight restoration we did for you last week.” The reason this is significant is because I had only met Jeff at L Street Car Wash and Detail for the first time the previous week. I needed a car detail and decided to give this company a try. So when upon my second visit Jeff saw me drive up and, presumably, pulled up my license plate in his system to see who I was and what work they had done for me in the past, I was pleasantly surprised at the greeting.

Whether Jeff actually remembered me or just got my information from the computer doesn’t matter. With eye contact, addressing me by name, and asking about my satisfaction from the previous visit, Jeff made me feel valued. He made me feel like a regular before I even had the chance to be a regular. Hey, who doesn’t want to be Norm from the old eighties sitcom Cheers? The only other thing Jeff could have done to make me feel more like Norm would have been to offer me a beer while I waited for my car wash.

But you know what? The free hot coffee and Jeff’s firm hand shake and partnership are enough to keep me coming back to L Street Car Wash and Detail over and over again. As for Antioch Mazda? Well, you’ve been warned.

Customer Service is the business of great affairs. It is indeed through the small things that we see our service providers for who they truly are. So if you are a service provider, go against conventional wisdom and sweat the small stuff.


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