Customer Service: The Most Important Business Practice to Invest In

It’s been almost a year since my last blog post, but I’ve been fairly busy in my new role as a Multimedia Production instructor at Lethbridge College. Which by the way, is best job in the world!

I’m still quite busy, but recently had an experience that prompted me to write this post.

Back Story

I’ve been on the market to buy a used car for a little while. My minivan was past it’s last legs and honestly was a waste of money to drive just for commuting to work. I started to search online for used cars that met my requirements. I came across a listing on Kijiji and reached out to Continental Auto Sales (the dealership that posted the ad).

After a few emails back and forth, I went out to test drive the car (the dealership is about 15 minutes outside of Lethbridge in a town called Coaldale).

After the test drive, I told them I wanted the car. There was just an issue with a slight odour and a tear in the driver seat upholstery. No problem, if I took the car, they would detail the car and have the seat repaired.

The guys at Continental Auto Sales said I was pre-approved and were just waiting for the final confirmation. The next day I wanted to pick up the car, but being that they are out-of-town, it would have been difficult as my wife was out-of-town. The great guys at Continental Auto Sales offered to come pick at my house and bring me to the dealership to finalize the papers.

There were a few mistakes, on the part of the financing company, but again the guys at Continental Auto Sales went to bat for me. They made sure I got the financing I needed and didn’t back down.

I drove the car home. I was totally pumped. It had been a while since I had a new car and I got a great deal too. Before I drove the car home, the guys at Continental Auto Sales told me that if I had any questions or concerns, to let them know. I’m glad they said that and were sincere when they did. My excitement about the new car was a little dulled after I found out that there was an issue with the windshield fluid sprayer. I contacted them immediately and was told to bring the car in and they would have it looked at.  I took the car in and it turned out the that the switch unit needed replacing. No problem, the guys at Continental Auto Sales took care of it.

Now on to the moral of the story.

Love my ‘new’ car – Blue Bullet!

 Stop Wasting Your Money on Gimmicks and Advertising

I’m not suggesting that you should stop advertising, it should be a part of your marketing mix, but it might not be as effective as other practices. According to Erik Qualman, only 14% of people trust advertisements, while 78% trust peer recommendations.

So what does that really mean?

If I break it down to simple math, if you create amazing and stunning ads and reach 1000 people with those ads, you may only get 140 people responding to those ads. But if you deliver amazing and stunning customer service to 1000 people, and they tell one friend, you have potentially 780 people that may act on the recommendation.

Now these numbers are obviously not the rule, but it helps paint the picture.

You’ve probably heard it before. I know I’ve talked about it before. But it’s still true more than ever and more even more important. Customer service is the new marketing.

Consumers are inundated with thousands of pieces of content on their social networks. In fact on Twitter alone, there are over 6,000 tweets a second. A lot of those tweets are noise.

So how do you step out the noise? You need to be freaking awesome!

What Continental Auto Sales Did Right

If you didn’t catch it from the back story, Continental Auto Sales did a number of things that demonstrated to me that I was important. That they were there for me and wanted the experience to be as great as possible.

  1. They drove a half hour round-trip to pick me up to finalize the papers and get my new car. Now you may think, “well, that’s their job.” While you are right about that, they are a two-man operation, and removing 50% of the team is a big deal. Plus it was just awesome to not have to figure out how to get there.
  2. They got the car smelling great and repaired the driver seat upholstery. Often when you buy cars used, they are “as is”.  While there still are many blemishes with the car. They did what they could to address the concerns I had with the car.
  3. They went to bat for me when there was a misunderstanding at the finance place. Again, it’s their job right? Yes it is, but they could easily have said sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you.  While it was in their best interest to complete the sale, I really wanted the car, so I appreciated the effort they put in.
  4. They arranged the repair of my windshield sprayer – at their cost. Like I mentioned, used cars are often “as is”, but they went over and above to ensure I was completely satisfied with my purchase – which is more than I can say for other places I purchased cars from. This expense may have come out of their pocket, but they’ll make that money back ten-fold in the word-of-mouth advertising I’ll do for them.

What Can You Do?

Anyone can be freaking awesome in the eyes of their customers. It just comes down to sincerely caring about their experience and satisfaction – even after the transaction is complete.

So many companies abandon their customers as soon as the sale is complete – DON’T! Customer service is not a one-time transaction, it’s an ongoing process.

Be with them along the journey. They might be done with you for now, but what about in a few months or years? Or what about word-of-mouth advertising they might do?

Start thinking of ways that you can be a hero to your customers, the way that Continental Auto Sales was to me.

NOTE: I did not receive any compensation for this post, this is just me giving a shout out where a shout out is due.