A little recognition on the inside will go a long way toward securing outside loyalty.

As competition intensifies and product differentiation decreases, customers increasingly look to the experience that they have with your dealership as the thing that makes the difference.

That experience which the customer has with your business was correctly and collectively called “moments of truth” in a book by that title by Jan Carlzon when he was chairman of Scandinavian Air Services. He described these moments as “anytime anyone has the opportunity to make a judgement about the quality of service you provide.” And certainly anyone who can turn a moment of truth into a momentous turning point for a customer is nothing less than a hero.

So who are the heroes of your business? They are the men and women in your company who interact with and serve your customers.

No Substitue For Attention
Business guru and author John Naisbitt (who wrote Reinventing the Corporation) has coined what I believe will be a new theme for this customer service age: “As the world becomes more high tech, people crave more high touch.”

Isn’t that the truth? Think about it – ATMs, voice mail. Many things in our society have become very impersonal. Yet we are living in an age in which people want to be known as your customer. They want personal attention. They want to be appreciated.

Experiences in which we receive that kind of personal and attentive service are becoming more and more difficult to find. For some time now, I have been asking attendees at our management training seminars to describe experiences that they have personally received from a supplier that wowed them. It has not proven to be an easy question to answer. There have not been many illustrations given.

What does that tell you?

It tells me that we have stopped recognizing and acknowledging the employees who provide “legendary service.” We sometimes neglect to delight our customers-perhaps, in our push for productivity, we have forgotten what that means.

Well here’s a simple suggestion. Get a large loose leaf binder and put a big bold title of HERO on it. Fill the binder with illustrations of how your employees have provided your customers with a wow!

From the receptionist to the truck drivers, everyone who touches your customers will have a story to tell about when they went the extra mile to satisfy a customer. Each case should be on one page in the binder with the employee’s picture. Review these cases with your employees regularly. Perhaps you will even want to acknowledge a hero of the month.

Leave the binders on the counters in the service department and the parts department. Have one in your reception area or anywhere your customers will be waiting in your store. Let them read through them, and make sure that there are photos of the staff in the binder so that customers can recognize them when they are being served by one of your heroes.

This simple idea might help turn the experiences that your customers have into extraordinary ones: experiences that will set you apart. Experiences that will make them “apostles” for your business.

After all, isn’t that what we want? Loyal, happy and satisfied customers. Customers we can serve for life. Customers who will keep coming back.

by Ron Slee
September, 1998
CED Magazine

About CED Magazine

Construction Equipment Distribution is published by Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada.

With CED, content is king. No fluff, no advertorials – CED just gives AED members what they want to read: business information, industry and association news, plus fresh, original and useful feature articles that they share with their management teams. Our subjects range from rental, product support, sales strategy and customer service to technology, construction markets and legislation – and much more.