Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When You Take Care of Your Customers, They Take Care of You

Image courtesy of HaniAlYousif
This post was originally published on October 7, 2013, on Customer Management IQ.

When your employees deliver a great experience, is it a fluke, or is it a way of doing business?

I've written a lot about what makes a great customer experience; as a matter of fact, I have boiled it down to five criteria:

1.    memorable
2.    remarkable
3.    personalized
4.    emotional
5.    consistent

That last attribute, consistency, has been a huge focus of mine. I believe that it sets expectations and creates predictability. And guess what that leads to? Trust.

So anytime that I have multiple great experiences with a company, I believe they are on to something! There are two such companies with which I've had blog-worthy experiences this year: Automobile Club of Southern California and Ringling Bros. Circus/Feld Entertainment. I've written three posts about the Ringling Bros experience; in today's post, I'm going to add one more story to the Auto Club experience.

I've been an Auto Club member for the last 27 years; I also get my auto and homeowners' insurances through them. The experience I wrote about earlier this year highlighted how they took a bad situation (car accident) and turned it into something that I'm still talking about today. The experience fit all five of the criteria. This latest experience, while with much less drama (on my part), showcases the fact that the Auto Club really gets it.

With interest rates all over the place this summer, I dove in and refinanced my mortgage to lock at a great low rate for the next 30 years. I haven't had an escrow account with my mortgage lender in a while, but the bank now required I either opt in or opt out, with the latter incurring a fee that didn't thrill me. So I opted in. The escrow account includes my annual homeowners' insurance premium, which came due less than two weeks after the refi closed. This made me a little anxious, since I didn't know how quickly the bank would actually pay the premium.

I checked my Auto Club account online to see if the bill had been paid; I watched over the course of a few days, and finally the day before (a Monday) it was due, I saw that my premium was still not paid. I contacted the title company, and they assured me that a check had been sent. I called the Auto Club, and they assured me that they had received no such check. After going back and forth between the two a few times, we agreed that we would wait one more day, just in case the check came in over the weekend; if not, a new check would be issued and sent.

In the meantime, the Auto Club assured me that I had a 10-day grace period but also gave me their physical address in case we wanted to overnight a new check, all the while being courteous and making me feel comfortable that my insurance would not lapse if the check was not found the next day (due date). Here's the kicker. The last Auto Club representative I spoke to  that day said that she would keep her eye out for my check, and either way, she would call me the next morning. She told me she would be in at 9AM, and she would call me as soon as she knew the status of my account.

Yea, right.

I was in a meeting and couldn't answer the phone, but at 9:05AM, my phone rang, and she left me a voicemail letting me know that the check had arrived and had been posted to my account. All was good.

I could not have been more delighted.

What happens when  customers have great experiences? They recommend you. They write about you. They share their experiences.

When you take care of your customers, when you do right by them, when you deliver and delight, then they take care of you.

Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can. -Gary Comer, founder of Land's End

8 comments:

  1. Annette, This is VERY true. It is so basic, yet so rare. Thank you for the marvelous article.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kirt. Glad you enjoyed it. I agree... it seems so basic... so common sense. And yet, so rare. :-(

      Annette :-)

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  2. Great story - what customer service!

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  3. Annette, there is an interesting podcast on ldrlb by Michael Raynor about his book "the three rules"

    2 of his rules are
    -think better before cheaper
    -worry about revenue not cost

    Which is exactly what your insurers are doing.

    For the third rule, you will have to listen to the podcast

    http://ldrlb.co/2013/08/0416-michael-raynor/

    James

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    1. Thanks, James. I like the first two rules... look forward to listening to find out what the third one is.

      Annette :-)

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  4. Hi Annette,
    Here's a challenge:
    What happens when things just work the way they are supposed to with no fuss. Does advocacy go down?

    Adrian

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    1. That's a good question, Adrian. Unfortunately, it happens so rarely... I'll get back to you on that!

      Actually, if "the way they are supposed to" includes a little delight on a regular basis (every interaction), I'd like to think that advocacy remains steady or continues.

      Annette :-)

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