Last week my car had to have maintenance. I went to a general service provider, so not a brand dealer. They are located close to where I live, the pricing is excellent and the quality is very good. But the best reason to be their customer is the service they provide.
They are open till well after 5 pm and on Saturdays, which is exceptional. They discuss with me what the best and cheapest solution is to certain problems. When they are working on my car, I get a rental car for free! And when I returned with a problem, they immediately helped me out, without any waiting time. There are many customers who like them very well, as it is rather busy at this Saturday morning.
The owner explains to me that he get new customers from dealers who show them their invoices. He is really surprised by the hours, which are charged, as well as with the rates. These dealers even tell him to charge more. But he says that he only charges for the real hours worked and for a reasonable price. Wow, that is an honest businessman who attracts through this ‘simple’ service a lot of customers!
A friend told me quite another story. He had a man over at his house to do the yearly check up of his stove. The guy worked for four hours (!), but couldn’t get the heating up and running again. It was after 7.30 pm, the house was cold; dinner could not be cooked, because there was no gas. He decided to call his boss who had to come over and fix the problem. When the boss checked the installation it became clear that the repair guy had forgotten to turn on the gas again……..?! Then my friend asked to settle the bill, as he wasn’t prepared to pay for the lack of experience of the repair guy. It was clearly a huge mistake on their side. But the boss was not willing to discuss this and he said he would just send an invoice. It goes without saying that my friend was not a happy customer.
This means that the way you treat your customers, your service and behaviour is a real differentiator. This customer service is most of the time even more important than the products, which you deliver.