February 2/9, 2015; Volume 28/Number 16
By Lisbeth Calandrino
I disagree. There are simple ways to get personal with anyone. Most people want to be noticed and treated like they are special. If you are always thinking about your customers you can’t go wrong. Instead, many of us think about ourselves first.
We say, “I treat customers the way I want to be treated.”
Personally, I hate that expression.
Since when did you and I set the standards for the rest of the world? I’ve seen people spit on the sidewalk and others who eat half a bag of cherries in the grocery store before getting to the cashier. I don’t want them working for me.
So what does going out of your way mean? It means sharing something about yourself that allows a customer to feel closer to you, or doing something extra special for her. Yes, sharing something about yourself is going out of your way…to build a friendship.
I recently went to the hardware store to have someone look at the lock on the trunk of my car. I wasn’t able to open it and the Lexus dealer suggested it would be cheaper to go to a locksmith and have him change it. After I explained the problem to him, the locksmith immediately replied, “Let me look at it.” (By the way, it was five degrees below zero.) He checked the lock and continued, “Let’s try some WD-40 before we tear the trunk apart.” Sure enough, that was enough to get the key working, as well as the automatic lock under the dashboard.
“Why not put some WD-40 in all of your locks so they don’t freeze?” he said. He then sprayed WD-40 into all the locks and off I went.
Another locksmith wanted $250 to change the lock and Lexus wanted $450. But this locksmith was simply kind, so I decided to trust him. Of course, he could have told me I needed a new lock or asked me why I didn’t go to the Lexus dealer. I’m sure his boss would have wanted him to act differently so he could have gotten a bigger sale. But thanks to this locksmith’s sympathy, he now has my business.
Sometimes going out of your way can reap big rewards. I was talking to my friend John Gregory, owner of Capital Vacuum in Albany, N.Y. He told me he has a bunch of vacuum cleaners that no one has ever picked up. They are in various states of disrepair but most will suck up the dirt. He decided to go to carpet stores and give each one a vacuum for installers. John heard that installers don’t always have vacuums and it’s important to clean up after the job. Why not help with this issue?
“The only thing I ask,” he said, “is if the customer needs a vacuum, please send them to my store. Most of these retailers can’t believe I would give them a vacuum for the installer. I tell them if it goes bad to call me.”
Brilliant move, don’t you think? John told me that his vacuum cleaner business is way up and much of it is because of the flooring stores in town. He also cleans grout and other hard surface flooring, so now he gets even more business. Why? Because they trust him and know he is going to take care of them if there are any problems.
A little kindness goes a long way.