If I had a business mission statement, a major element of it would be my focus on delivering excellent customer service to my clients.
I believe that service businesses shouldn’t just meet customer expectations, but should go above & beyond what anyone would expect.
Sometimes above & beyond actions go over so well that they actually become the new standard. The first time I ever was offered a “taste” of a beer when I didn’t know what to order was at Schlafly’s Bottleworks (actually the bartender suggested I taste one of the beers and then returned with small servings of 3 she thought I might like!). Since then, I’ve had similar experiences at Pi Pizzeria and Newstead Tower Public House.
I work hard to deliver service that is beyond what my clients expect. My clients get a DVD at closing with all of the documents related to their home purchase or sale. Clients and referral sources get a thank you gift at the time of the closing AND the following December. Listing clients get a weekly housing report that keeps them up to date on all of the week’s housing activity in their competing market including new listings, price reductions, status changes, closed sales and MLS hits. Buyer clients can see as many homes as they want and will never feel pressured to just pick a house.
I believe in excellent customer service.
Unfortunately, I am disappointed too often as I visit businesses around town.
Yesterday, I was reminded that there are businesses that follow my philosophy that customers deserve above & beyond service.
St. Louis Above & Beyond Award: Clockmaster:
A few days ago I noticed that I somehow cracked the crystal on my favorite watch. It isn’t an expensive watch, but I have a tiny wrist and it fits me just perfect. I also have an allergy to nickel in watches and earrings, so I decided to see if I could get the crystal replaced rather than go in search of a new watch.
For years I’ve been going to Clockmaster when I needed a new watch battery. For about the same price as buying the battery at Target, Clockmaster employees will pry off the back and replace the battery, handing your watch back to you in less time than you could get in & out of a large discount store.
I headed to Clockmaster with my damaged watch in hopes that they could fix it for a price that would justify repairing it rather than buying a replacement. The man I spoke to (the owner?) said it would be about $30 to replace the glass. He said that it would take a few days, but no more than a week. Really just thinking out loud, I commented that I wondered if I could get by for a few days without a watch.
He immediately said that he could offer me a loaner. He actually joked that he would give me a Rolex loaner, and everyone else waiting near the counter laughed with him.
Moments later, an older woman returned from the backroom with a watch in her hand. She explained that it was her spare watch which she had in her purse.
It reminded me of the way my grandmother would have handled the situation. After putting the watch on my wrist, she wrote up a receipt for the repair, not even noting that I need to return the loaner watch on the paperwork.
Creating Customer Loyalty
I left the watch store thinking about how businesses create customer loyalty. For me, very small actions make a huge impression.
Businesses that want to create customer loyalty should encourage every employee to take the extra steps to make customers know that they are valued.
Here are a few other recent experiences I’ve had at St. Louis businesses that really impressed me.
Companion is a locally owned bakery serving the best bread in town via restaurants, grocery stores and their 3 bakeshops. They offer free wifi, friendly service and the best baked eggs I’ve ever eaten.
A few months ago I brought my computer with me and camped out at the Central West End location. I ordered some breakfast and coffee and fired up the laptop. A few hours later, the cafe was nearly empty and my coffee cup sitting next to me held cold coffee while I sat engrossed in my work. An employee approached me and asked me if he could get me a coffee refill.
A lot of local cafes will come by and pick up your dirty dishes, but I’ve never had anyone else offer me the level of service that I would expect only at a full service restaurant. I know it seems like such a small thing, but it changed the way I feel about Companion Bread. It is now the only coffee shop that I use when I am in the Central West End.
Jim had recently moved to St. Louis from Chicago and asked Jon if he could make a buffalo chicken pizza. Jon had never heard of one, but since he had all the ingredients, he did what every good business owner would do to make a customer happy. He pulled out the buffalo wing sauce and slathered it on some pizza dough.
I don’t actually like buffalo sauce, so I didn’t give it a try. But, everyone else at our table loved it. Even more, we all loved that Jon went above & beyond to make a customer happy. He took a chance, serving something to customers that he had never made before. He could have taken the safer route and said that the pizza wasn’t on the menu.
I’m not positive, but I think that Jon may have even added it to his list of regular pizzas too.
Jon got a ton of good press on Twitter about the tweetup and this pizza, and I’ve heard through the grapevine that his business has increased dramatically since the tweetup and getting involved in the twitter community.
Provisions Gourmet Market
Provisions is a cross between a wine & cheese store, cafe and grocery-style prepared food to take home for dinner. They get a big lunch crowd and offer sandwiches, grilled items, soup, salads and wraps. I decided to get a wrap and asked if I could substitute dried cranberries for sun-dried tomatoes. The response I got was that they didn’t have any dried cranberries by the wrap station, but you can get some up front where the nuts were located. I didn’t want to bother with getting out of line, so I told the wrap lady to skip it. A minute later, another employee who had overheard the interaction walked up with a small cup of cranberries and handed them to the woman who was making my wrap.
I was impressed, loved my wrap and will be back again soon.
Nadoz Euro Bakery Cafe
Nadoz is my favorite coffee shop. The Richmond Heights location meets all of my criteria for a great coffee shop:
- Free unlimited wifi
- Enough tables near outlets that I can stay beyond my battery’s short life
- Coffee with unlimited refills that tastes great too
- Real food – I want to be able to get breakfast or lunch, not just muffins or biscotti
- Parking isn’t a huge pain
The food at Nadoz Cafe is really great. It is fresh with quality ingredients. On a recent visit, I ordered some food and then walked over to get my coffee. When I returned, the man cooking my food said that they were out of spinach, a major ingredient in my crepe. He offered to substitute arugula, but that just didn’t sound so good to me. He immediately told me that he would make me anything I wanted. Just name the ingredients.
He could have sent me back to the register to pick another menu item, but instead he solved the problem in a way that made it clear that my satisfaction was the most important thing. Since he couldn’t make what I ordered, he wanted me to get something I really wanted even if it meant my non-menu creation would have been little more expensive than what I paid.
Do you know of a St. Louis business that deserves an Above & Beyond Award?
Share the details with us in the comments and let’s spread the word about businesses that do things right.