Small Things Have Big Consequences
I recently bought a new car for one of our engineers here at our company. We needed one and had done some research before deciding on the make and model I thought would suit our purposes best. A few weeks later I needed to use this car to make a trip out to one of our clients. One of the first things I noticed is that it didn't have car mats. When you have multiple users for a car, it can get dirty fast, so we needed to have those mats. Since I thought they were pretty much standard for a new car, I simply assumed that the dealer had forgotten to put them in. So I emailed the manufacturer. Imagine my surprise when I find out not only is this not standard, but that this particular manufacturer would charge me $160 for the mats made for that particular car. The only other offer they made was that I could get a set of generic car mats for $40.
This still sounded like a lot of money for car mats, so I checked around. When I went on Google, I found out that the days of getting your car mats for free are long gone. What is more, there were plenty of sites where people complained about this, but the company seemed completely unwilling to change this standard offer. The dealer we bought the car from was willing to offer me the same mats the manufacturer offered for $140, but I could also go to a car supply store and buy generic mats for around $20. This is, in the end, what I did.
Poor Customer Service Means Lost Future Sales
Now, while I know that it isn't the dealer's fault that the manufacturer doesn't offer the mats anymore for free, I have a different bone to pick with him. This is because he was handed a perfect customer service opportunity to make me a customer for life, and he blew it. All he had to do was go to that auto supply store, pick up those $20 mats, and hand them to me for free as a solution. I would have brought any future business, which I will indeed have, to his dealership. Instead I will take it elsewhere. My wife needs a new car and who knows when the company might need another one as well. He could have gotten at least one if not two more sales from me within the next few months. Instead, he lost them because he couldn't see the problem with the mats as a customer service opportunity.
Don't Drop Your Opportunities
So what is the lesson for all of us here? Sometimes our customers come to us with a problem that didn't start with us. It could be your vendor who dropped the ball, it doesn't matter. Good customer service means we take care of our customers, we go the extra mile. It might cost you a few dollars initially, but the payoff will be well worth it. Happy customers not only come back, they recommend you to others. So the next time a customer comes to you with a problem, see it as an opportunity to win them over, instead of something that wastes your time. Giving them great customer service that goes beyond what you "actually owe them" is always worth the time and effort.