Does a high quality customer support experience directly correlate to increased sales? Can you increase your company’s revenues by simply providing best in class service?
Everyone has their personal beliefs around this, but I have a story to tell about a cross country drive I took more than twenty years ago…
I had packed up everything I owned in my beat up Honda Prelude and headed west, leaving behind the high plains of Denver for the forests and rivers of Portland.
My plan was not fully baked – closer to half.
I had recently quit my job in the IVR business and decided to move out to the “silicon forest” to explore opportunities in software and potentially outsourcing. I had a little bit of money, was jobless and lacked a proper plan for an apartment once I reached Oregon.
None of that worried me however.
My packed-to-the-gills Honda, on the other hand, was in “less than ideal” shape, making strange noises and emitting huge plumes of blue smoke every time I hit the gas.
Now, if you have never traveled from Colorado to the northwest, I highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful drive with amazing landscapes, but it can also be a bit remote in places.
According to my Thomas Guide (this was waaaaaay before Google Maps), my route from Denver would take me north to Wyoming, all the way across the state, into northern Utah, up to Idaho, then eventually across Oregon. It’s a beautiful drive but, like I said, a bit remote.
The trip into Wyoming began just fine, but ¾ of the way across the state I ran into trouble, late on a Friday afternoon.
My car hand been acting up, making odd, screeching noises that were becoming progressively louder when I hit the brakes. Realizing I wasn’t going to make it all the way through Wyoming that day, I limped into the little town of Rock Springs, desperately in need of a repair ship before it got too late in the day.
The only one I could find was a Big O Tires.
If you are not familiar with them, Big O is a large franchiser of tire retailers. Their focus is of course tires, but they also handle basic maintenance services such as lube, oil, and filter changes, battery replacement, struts, as well as brake servicing. They appear to be nationwide.
By the time I had pulled in, seen a mechanic and had the problem diagnosed (apparently my brake pads were worn out), it was already close to 4:30pm. I could see from their sign out front that they closed at 5. Things were not looking good for Mr. Achak.
I sat in their waiting room, feeling sorry for myself, wondering when I would be able to get my brakes fixed, how long I would be in town and where I would be staying that night.
The mechanic finally came out and walked me through what the noise meant as well as why I needed new brake pads. I explained my situation and asked if it could possibly be done today or even tomorrow morning. He listened quietly, thought a moment, then told me to go get dinner at the pizza place next door and come back in an hour. He would see what they could do.
I can’t remember the pizza place, but an hour later I was dutifully back at Big O, somewhat hopeful.
I couldn’t believe it. They were just finishing things up.
In “matter-of-fact” fashion, they had worked way past closing to get my brakes fixed, without a thought for their own time.
The topper was the price. When I asked him what I owed, he shrugged and simply said $80 would do it. That seemed way too low, especially given how late they worked, and I asked if he was sure. He replied in the affirmative and said not to worry. They were just glad they were able to get me back on the road.
To this day, I search out Big O’s whenever possible for new tires, rotations and brakes. We used to have one down on 4th Ave here in Seattle. It was a pain in the butt to get to, but I happily made the trek every single time I needed anything. I probably bought at least 10 sets of tires from them over the years and had countless brakes repaired.
The interesting thing was that the employees at that shop were just as nice there as their counterparts in Wyoming. They even enjoyed my story.
I have always been a bit of a loyal shopper, and I will gladly spend more or travel further for something I believe in. I know I am not unique in this respect. Many folks I know are the same way – to us, quality customer service means something and can always be used as a true differentiator.
A few years ago the Big O on 4th changed hands and became something else. I can’t even recall the new name. I went there a few times out of habit but eventually stopped going. It just wasn’t the same place and didn’t evoke the same loyalty in me anymore.
~ Matthew Achak