At Your Service: You can’t put a price on customer relationships
By Russ Dantu
The power of “now” service
By Russ Dantu
It was Thursday, July 4, at 3:27 when I got the call from my customer, Dani. We’ve known each other for many years now and have an awesome professional relationship to the point we were both in Hawaii a few years back and got together for appetizers and drinks with our families. If I am somewhere and I know a customer is going to be there, I usually look them up ahead of time to see if they want to meet. It’s going an extra step to deepen a relationship….which is what this article is all about.
“Russ, we’ve got our Stampede Party starting in a couple of hours and it’s pouring rain. I don’t suppose you have any rain ponchos kicking around, do you?”
It’s impossible for me to keep extra product sitting around when we have over one million items to draw from so, no, ponchos aren’t something I keep handy, just in case.
I replied “Hey, Dani. No, I don’t but how many are you looking for?”
She said, “Literally, whatever you could come up with.”
I said, “Leave it with me for 30 minutes and I’ll see what I can find.”
I headed over to a Dollar Store. I have never bought product for a customer at the Dollar Store before, but hey, beggars cannot be choosers 90 minutes before the event. I found some economical umbrellas with red maple leafs all over them. My customer’s corporate colors are red and they are a Canadian company so I thought this would be perfect.
“Dani, how are umbrellas for you? They are $3.50 each here and one other location close by has the same. I can get you about 40 total and still be down to you before your event starts. Should I go ahead and buy these?”
“Russ, I cannot believe you are doing this for me. Yes, please do!”
I drove to two different Dollar Stores and headed close to downtown Calgary during rush hour traffic as everyone was making their commute home. It’s never nice driving near downtown Calgary during rush hour traffic. Dani met me at the front door to their building with this amazing smile on her face.
“I cannot believe you pulled this off. Thank you!”
The next day, she sent me this email:
“My day was positively insane. And then the rain. I should have planned earlier. You were a knight in shining armour. Over and above by going out of your way to get umbrellas for me. Beyond words, Russ. You are amazing and I hope one day I can repay you for all you do for me.
“The umbrellas were a hit. So many grateful wet faces when I handed them out.
“Please invoice me, for the umbrellas, and your time, Russ. I truly value how you put your business and day on hold to source these for me.”
I didn’t stop there. All I billed her was $50 more than the cost of the umbrellas that day for all my time and gas to get this done for her. Truthfully, I lost money, but I cemented an already solid relationship even further.
I don’t share this story to toot my own horn. I share it because the lesson is gold here. It shouldn’t always be about the money. To show your customer that you truly value their business, sometimes go way above and beyond to help them out and not gouge them with a huge bill afterwards.
Business Development Canada recommends encouraging your customers to form an emotional connection with your company. Money may be a lot of things, but it’s not emotional. When you do things for your customers in return for payment, the customer may appreciate a fair deal but they always understand that it’s a value-for-value transaction that they can potentially get somewhere else. To really make your business indispensable, look for opportunities to show you care about their needs beyond just what they’re willing to pay for.
It always comes back tenfold! Try it – you’ll put a huge smile on your customers’ face and feel good doing it.
Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit russdantu.com.