Small Business Blog: Making Customer Experience Your Advantage

By Erin Verbeck

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Earlier this week, I shared 4 tips for overcoming mistakes in your small business. And I promised to go into this topic a bit more later this week, specifically giving examples from Simplicity Sofas, a company we featured in our recent New York Times best-selling book, Worth Every Penny, because of the personalized service they provide to customers. They have turned customer experience into a competitive advantage and I just had to put them in our small business blog.

And what’s really remarkable is that even though 95% of Simplicity Sofa’s business transactions happen online, they have turned a potential low-touch online concept into a service and experience-oriented success. Simplicity Sofas calls every single customer after delivery to make sure absolutely everything about the product, the delivery, and the service is beyond satisfactory. And by doing this, they often find an opportunity to take the customer experience to the next level.

Here’s one example Simplicty Sofas owner Jeff Frank shared with me of going above and beyond to give your clients a reason to gush about you.

Client email:

Hi Jeff,
It arrived yesterday and we are pleased!  We assembled last night.  

I would not recommend UPS freight service in the future.  We have a long private drive – with a turn around.  The driver would not bring his truck down so I made two trips with my truck and had to unload the myself.  While I am in very good shape to do this – I am not sure many other 48 year old females could.  He would not go on a private drive (even mine) per company policy.  It was absurd.  I had pottery barn furniture delivered last year in a bigger truck with no problem to my door!

Thanks,

Margaret

Jeff’s response:

Hi Margaret,

I am sorry to hear of your experience with the UPS driver.  UPS leaves situations like this up to the discretion of its drivers as to whether or not they will deliver in any specific situation.

We have a 24/7 customer service hotline (800-813-2889) just for situations like this.  If you had called we would have suggested that UPS drivers are often more flexible if you offer them a $50 tip.  We would also have offered to reimburse you for the amount of the tip required.

If that did not work we could have arranged for the UPS driver to return the furniture to his local terminal and hired a local delivery service (with a smaller truck) to make the final delivery the next day.

Although it is too late for these solutions we will be sending you a $50 check as partial compensation for your trouble and aggravation.  Even though we have no direct control over our delivery services we still accept responsibility for the fact that your total experience with our company was less than perfect.

Jeff Frank, Owner
Simplicity Sofas

I know if I received this email after sharing my issue with the company owner, it would definitely make me feel good about my investment and my experience. And more importantly, I’d likely tell all of my friends about the experience. As a boutique business, you do cost a little more. But by having higher margins, you have the ability to blow your customers’ minds when you need to.

Jeff shared with us that he learned how to make online customer service high touch through his experience volunteering with a consumer advocacy group, A Call to Action. The nonprofit’s goal is to help consumers who feel they’ve been wronged in a business transaction— whether it’s a faulty product, a strange mishap, or a dispute over an invoice. Jeff says that during his time with A Call to Action he realized some strangely simple truths:

1. When companies do nothing to resolve an issue with a customer, the customer becomes extremely angry.

2. When a company does something to fix the problem, the customer typically forgives the company.

3. When a company goes above and beyond—not just fixing the problem but doing something to truly delight them— customers will not only forgive the problem but will forever be company fans.

Jeff realized that customer service—to the extreme—is far more effective than advertising, and it costs a lot less.

Jeff’s approach to customer service goes beyond merely satisfying your customers, but rather taking it to the next level and delighting them. What are you doing to take your clients’ experience with your business to the next level?


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