Great Customer Service…the Secret Sauce of Successful Companies

A couple weeks ago, we took a long weekend and flew to Seattle to see the boys and have some time away from work and the daily routine. It was wonderful. Along the way, we saw several examples of good customer service. It was my husband’s birthday and we have this tradition of hiding cards in creative places.

Our first destination was Walla Walla to see our son. We checked into the Maxwell House Bed and Breakfast and my husband quickly realized why I enjoyed my first stay there. Penny Bingham is a delightful hostess (and the B&B is great too). I gave her one of the cards and asked her to deliver it at breakfast. She cleverly hid it between his breakfast plate and the charger.

A second card was given to the maître d’ prior to dinner at The Marc, the restaurant inside the Marcus Whitman Hotel. When I gave it to him, he asked about my husband’s taste in dessert so they could present the card with a dessert. Nice touch! (Oh, and dinner was really good too.)

We then decided to stop at Three Rivers Winery on our drive to Tacoma. I checked in on Foursquare and discovered my first useful “special”…a free wine tasting flight for two. We sampled and learned about some really great wines before buying more bottles than we likely would have without the sampling. I tweeted my thanks and they replied within the next hour or so.

Sunday we spent the day in Tacoma with our youngest son. Among other things we returned some hiking boots he bought at REI for the orientation camping trip but they really didn’t fit well. As most REI customers have come to expect, the staff promptly refunded our money and didn’t question my 18-year old at all. When I tweeted our thanks, the company immediately responded.

In each case, the effort the company took to take care of us was natural and likely didn’t take them very long. But the results remain forever. There are some pretty basic steps to good customer service these folks all employed.

  • Monitor social media so you know what your customers are saying. Most customers expect an answer within a day…at the most.

  • Try to cover as much of the day (24 hours) as you can.

  • Add that special touch when customers are asking for it, and when they aren’t. It’s the unexpected that will bring customers back.

  • Remember that more (a lot more) people will share a bad experience than will share a good one. Take care of, and respond to all of them.

  • If a customer has a bad experience, try to take it offline to help.

  • Make sure your website makes it easy for customers to find answers.

  • ALWAYS say thank you.

Are there customer service techniques you’ve used I forgot?

Thank you for reading my blog. I’d love your comments and suggestions. Please do come back.

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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