Monday, September 9, 2013

Service Saves the Day

I've written before on the topic of customer service, and of the annoying tendency of every retail establishment to hand you a survey with your receipt. Yesterday, my daughter and I got one of those from a salesclerk with a fake smile who first asked if I was sure I didn't want their credit card and then asked for my email. Thanks to her, I'll have a lot to say on that survey. 

But that's not my focus today.

I've discovered that small businesses who do what they do well are often the ones who don't hand you a survey. Word of mouth is their lifeblood, but they assume if you like them, you'll say so and spread the word. And today, I'm using this space for that purpose.

Yesterday, after my daughter and I completed our shopping, we returned to the car and settled in for our thirty minute trip home. I started the car and the "maintenance required" light -- the one that had been flashing at me menacingly for a week or more -- went on. And stayed on.

I took a deep breath, put on my poker face (no sense in both of us worrying over something we had no control over) and said a silent prayer for a safe return home, which, fortunately was answered with just that.

Then this morning, feeling a little like Kaley Cuoco's Penny (whose "check engine" light is perpetually on), I made the (overdue) appointment for an oil change.

I didn't have time for an oil change. My day was booked. Did the waiting room have wifi? If so, maybe I could just transfer my work to my bag and get it done there. Could I get an afternoon appointment? Because if I did, I could work through the morning, and I'd probably be okay. Was it more than just an oil change? How long would that take?

I did, indeed, get an afternoon appointment at Nello Tire, a tire and auto repair shop that has worked on our cars for quite some time. It was a 1:00 appointment, which was just about perfect. I spent the morning working, then packed my gear, ready to settle in -- with or without wifi.
They took me right away.

They had wifi.

They did everything they said they'd do, and while I was immersed in my PowerPoint, ear buds firmly in place, someone tapped on my shoulder and told me my car was ready.

All in about half an hour.

I'm sure it's not a big deal to them that my oil change, light turnoff and related services took less than thirty-five minutes. I'm sure it's just another job on another Monday.

But it was so much more for me and my gratitude knew no bounds. Quickly and courteously, they did what they'd promised to do and gave me my day back. Less than $30 later, I was on my way, all of my worst case scenarios turned off with that dashboard light. Nello Tire had saved my day, and I had enough day left to truly appreciate the value of that gift.

When I was checking out, I asked the man if they had customer satisfaction surveys. He apologized and said they did not, so I thanked him for fixing my car, and told him I was very pleased with the service I had received.

This, Madame Retail Clerk is how it's done. Do your job. Do it well and efficiently. People will come back. There's no need for special credit cards or customer loyalty emails. Good service breeds customer loyalty. And a real smile is just the icing on the cake.

Thanks, Nello. I'll be back.

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