By Toby Somerville

Are Your Customers Promoting You?

By Toby Somerville

In this post I am going to discuss, how going that extra mile with customer service can make a big difference to the bottom line of your businesses.

Recently the exhaust broke on my car. I needed to get it fixed, but where? Did I take it to the nearest or cheapest place?

Nope. I took it to the place that had repaired the exhaust on my old car 4 years ago — 115 miles (185km) away. Why?


Customer service.

Last time I went there, not only did they do a first class job with the exhaust, but they also went the extra mile with customer service.

  • they stayed open past their normal closing time, so we could pick up the car (as we were running late)
  • they fixed another minor issue at the same time for no extra charge
  • they were friendly and customer centered
  • they made the tiresome irritation of a broken exhaust into a positive experience
  • they even made our little boy’s day by letting him have a go with a remote control car

At the end of the day – I, as the customer was made to feel special and not like a “walking wallet”. They did what they said they would do and more. I was happy to part with my hard earned cash.

When I returned, was I disappointed?

No — again, immaculate service that went that extra mile.

What does this exceptional service do for that business?

  • they get repeat business
  • they are actively promoted for free by happy customers (like myself)
  • they save money on marketing and promotion
  • they get to feel good about making a small, but positive difference to people’s lives

All of this translates to a healthier bottom line. Simply, great customer service makes excellent business sense.

And how did I find out about them?
Someone recommended them to me — Of course.

How do you go above and beyond for your customers?

  • Alain

    Imho it is just way stupid to drive almost 200km to get that fixed, no matter how great the service is. It once more shows how unaware of the pollution caused by cars americans are. I am sure there would be a great one closer, too.

  • Absolutely true. I’ve worked for big corporates in IT support, and one thing they all do is talk a lot about customer service, but actually spend most of their time trying to limit what they do about it. A great phrase we often heard was to “limit customer expectations”. This meant, don’t go the extra 5 yards for customer service as the customer will expect it next time.
    My folks run a small business and their philosophy is sell a good product at a reasonable price with good service and you’ll always find a customer.
    I run my own web development business now, guess who’s ideas I follow?

  • Php_penguin

    how much of this was actually about the customer service, and how much was you thinking “This would make a great anectode for my next blog post”?

  • NuPixel

    I think this is a good post and speaks well on on customer service. Thanks. :)

  • Too many companies view customer service as an expense, rather than a marketing investment.

    Amazon has been known to have employees drive out to their local big box retailer to pick up an item for an important customer when it’s out of stock at their own warehouse. Now that’s customer service!

  • delfincantv

    Of course this is about Customer service.
    It´so related to marketing, sales, price all, if you provide a good service, customers will always come back, and refers to friend. If they recomend a good provider, then they earn extra points too.
    I tend to assist my clients on the proccess of developing a webapp.
    I try to explain all the details as general facts not even about their project, but internet and IT in general.
    If you explain customers about the diferent areas you work, they could recomend you when somebody talks about it and needs help.
    The more info you handle, and people know you, the better chance to get interesting projects

  • I try to do the same thing for my clients and I find that the little things like politeness, honesty, prompt replies, small free updates, even something like personally thanking them for their business really does pay off. Most people I’ve done work for have come back with new sites, and have also passed my name along, some which have deep pockets. I haven’t ever done any advertising (yet) and still I’m kept busy with constant work. Very good, relevant post. Thanks.

  • Toby Somerville

    @Alain – you assume that:

    1. that was the only reason I drove the 185km
    2. that I am American

    Wrong on both counts.

  • AnandC

    Being prompt, courteous, polite, and honest is expected behavior of a professional. It is nothing special. From my experience little things that acknowledge your personal relationship with your client help the most. Things like sending a nice card with a box of chocolates or wine during Christmas/New Years, sending a birthday card/gift/email, or sending a gift to celebrate a major milestone for you client’s company regardless of whether you are involved in the project. I also find that sometimes it is nice to treat your client to a nice lunch or dinner meeting at an upscale restaurant. And ofcourse “freebies” are helpful in building a relationship. I personally find it tacky to throw in an “extra feature” for an app for free, but instead I’ll leverage other relationships to facilitate discounts on services and products. Sometimes I also help out a client’s relative or friend by dishing out free advice on how to set up a personal blog or use anti spyware apps on their PC. Basically all these things I described above tell your client that you care about them and their business and not just more billable work. Good luck out there!

  • @AnandC

    Yes, you would assume being prompt, courteous, polite, and honest is nothing special, but I’ve heard many horror stories that my now clients have told me. Web development isn’t known for being full of people with many social graces. A lot of people that enter the field are a lot of times more techy than business-oriented. In order to be successful, you need a bit of both.

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