The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, August 16, 2010

Extreme Customer Care

As the man of the house, of course I am expected to know everything about anything mechanical – and specifically everything about cars. How they work – what has to be done if they don’t – even though I am a mechanical klutz.

So naturally when my wife complained about how bad the wipers were on her car I was expected to fix it. So I went, with some trepidation to the nearest Autobarn store. It’s OK for women to go to these stores, because they aren’t expected to know anything about cars – some young guy is always willing to help and show of their knowledge – particularly if the woman is young. Guys, on the other hand – should be experts– and if you aren’t, the usual response in a car store is to treat you with contempt.

However, that was not my experience at Autobarn. As I walked in, someone asked what I was looking for. I said – wiper blades. You would think this is a simple purchase, but it is not. There is a huge range to choose from, and then I realised they had to be properly fitted. Clearly seen as being clueless in this environment, a young guy came up and asked if he could help? He didn’t wait to be asked. Within a minute or two, he found the correct blades.

When I started to ask about how I was to install them, how the length was to be adjusted, he could sense I was quite uncomfortable with the whole process. So he asked where my car was parked, and while I was paying, he went out, brought my blades back to the shop, and within a few minutes, had replaced the old blades, and using equipment ready to hand in the store, fitted the length properly and had the blades re-installed in my wife’s car. The Autobarn guy made it look easy because he knew what he was doing and he had the right equipment.

I am reasonably sure that given enough time, I would have worked out how to do it myself, but I have also had bad experiences in struggling with poorly translated instructions with diagrams that look like they have been drawn by a 5 year old – and messing around with the wrong equipment.

Autobarn just charged me for the blades – about $24. If I got the mechanic to do it at the next service, he would probably have hit me for double that.

The level of service from Autobarn was way above what I expected. It never occurred to me that they would fit the blades for me. Sure the store was not very busy at the time, but how many places do you visit where you can’t get anyone’s attention because they are too busy to serve the customer.

When you get such service, what do you do? You tell everyone about it – as I am doing now.

Going that bit further than your competitors with extreme customer care creates fantastic word of mouth. I won’t hesitate in going back to Autobarn and to tell others to use visit their stores.

Of course, having manfully fixed that mechanical problem, my wife has now found other mechanical repairs for me to do. I wonder if the guys at Autobarn will come around to fix our pool gate?

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.

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