Do your customers leave your store and think, “Wow. It is so nice to buy from this business”?

Is your business famous for great customer service? Do your customers tell others about you? If not, you do not have renowned customer service.

Customers can buy the products and services you sell from a lot of different competitors. The only thing you really have to differentiate your business and yourself is service.

So what is good customer service these days? Does it mean getting a customer out the door fast? Or having a sales assistant help find the right item? Or keeping costs as low as possible? Is it having the latest stuff shoppers don’t even know they want until they see it? Making a delivery on time? Fixing errors quickly? Having a live person answer the phone?

Good customer service can only be defined by what is important to each customer. Renowned customer service is service that is so good, customers find it important enough to tell others about it.

My father taught me what renowned customer service was when I was 17 years old. I was home from college on vacation and working at the family business with my dad. On the morning of Christmas Eve, a man came into our electronics store and purchased our low-end, loss-leader black-and-white 19-inch-screen television.

Money losers

We lost $10 every time we sold one of those sets. I asked my father why he did not move the man to a model we made a profit on. He told me that the customer was a good truck-tire customer (we also had a tire store that was not doing very good at the time).

My father instructed me to deliver the television to the man’s home after we closed at 6 p.m. The television was a surprise for his wife and four children.

It had been snowing most of the day and now there was a strong storm hitting our area. When I arrived at the customer’s home, I took the television out of the truck and carried it up a dozen or so steps.

Standing on the uncovered porch and being bombarded by snow and ice, I knocked on the door. I told her I had a television that her husband had purchased.

She immediately told me I was making a mistake. They could not afford a television and her husband never would have made such a purchase. She shut the door in my face.

I picked up the television and went back into the truck. I knew I could not go home without at least telephoning my father first and telling him what had happened. I went to one of her neighbors and asked to use the telephone.

My father was adamant: “Don’t come home before you deliver that television.” 

I hauled the TV up the now snow-covered steps again. This time when the woman came to the door, she did not open it, so I had to talk through the glass. I told her I had telephoned my father and I was not mistaken. The television was for her.

‘No'

She again told me I was making a mistake and told me to get off her porch or she would call the police.

I called my father again. All he said was “Deliver the television” and hung up on me.

I sat in front of the customer’s house for a while trying to think of what I could say to get her to accept delivery. Then a police car pulled up beside me.

The police officer motioned for me to come over to his window. I told him what was going on and he said while finally getting out of his warm cruiser, “Get the TV and come with me.” 

He knocked on the door.

“I know Janets’ store very well and they usually do not make mistakes,” the oficer said. “Mr. Janet will sign that if in fact this is a mistake and this television was not purchased by your husband you get to keep it anyway.”

After a bit more discussion, she accepted the television.

When I arrived home -  cold, wet and still freezing - my father was sitting in front of a fireplace, sipping eggnog.

“We are 100 percent customer centered,” he hold me. “Everything we do is about and for the customer. Not about us. I promised the customer we would deliver the television and we deliver what we promise.”

If you want to be successful selling products and services you will have to do the same  - 100 percent. And no, 99.9 percent is not good enough.

Bob Janet is a motivational speaker who specializes in delivering key selling and marketing skills and techniques. He uses his 40-plus years of selling and marketing as owner and operator of his retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses combined with his presentation style, including audience participation and real-life business stories and examples.

Contact him at (800) 286-1203; fax (704) 882-4148; e-mail bob@bobjanet.com; see www.BobJanet.com on the Internet.