Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Satisfied Customers: Your Greatest Sales Force

Do you know about the Raving Fans concept? It says that because of the poor service received in the past, customer expectation is often low. To me, if one’s business goes above and beyond to satisfy, you will not only gain customer for life, but an advocate in the community. A truly gratified customer will go out of his or her way to tell others how great of an experience you provided. You can’t pay for that kind of advertising–and it’s got the highest ROI.

Here are three ways I’ve seen this play out:

Scenario 1: Knives. I own a set of Cutco knives, purchased about 20 years ago. Not long ago, a sales representative approached me, asking if he could sharpen them. When he arrived, he saw they might need a little more attention and asked if he could send them back to the factory. This morning I received a brand new set of knives in the mail. I paid only the $9 shipping. Guess who’ll I buy from going forward? 

Scenario 2: Cars. I have a friend who owns several car dealerships. He once told me that he likes it (at times) when a manufacturer may not stand behind a chronic problem in their vehicles. When he can, he does something about it. Once, a warranty had expired on a customer’s drive train about six months earlier. He replaced the transmission at no cost to the customer. Guess where the customer has purchased her automobiles since?

Scenario 3: Luggage. I travel a good bit. At one time, Tumi offered a lifetime guarantee. I had a problem with the zipper. When I sent it back, they not only fixed the zipper, but a wheel, the handle and a corner of the case that had worn down. Guess the brand of the luggage I have purchased since then?

I can say the same thing about Craftsmen Tools and Gloomis fishing rods. These manufacturers and service providers understand that for relatively low-cost, they can create customers for life.

We try to have that same philosophy in our business. Periodically, I’ll write a past customer a note about a building we constructed for them years before. I ask if it is still performing well? If I am visiting their building and see something that needs some attention, we will send a note asking for permission to send a crew over to correct it. Hopefully in the process we are creating customers for life.

We are not special compared to these other companies. We are trying to do the right thing because we care.

Maybe there is something to consider here in your business? 

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.