One of the easiest ways to increase the value of our business to our customers, and to make sure they return to buy again, is to offer exceptionally great customer service. In the short run this may cost a company a bit more money, but in the long run you’ll see the benefit because each customer will spend more money with you. But even more important is the fact that they will tell their friends about the great experience they had with you or will tell many, many more friends about the negative experience.
I had a first-hand experience with this concept during Mother’s Day weekend. On Thursday, I received a phone call from a local florist, Sutcliffe Florist, one that I had used for the 30+ years that I have lived in Flagstaff. The call went like this:
Caller: “Since this is Mother’s Day weekend, the cost of our flowers has gone up, and we need more money from you for the gift you ordered through our website.”
Me: “I haven’t placed an order with you, but I suspect that the order is a gift for me from my daughter that lives in Prescott. If that is the case, DO NOT CALL HER and ask for more money. Just prepare an arrangement with the amount that she paid and deliver it. I repeat. ‘DO NOT CALL HER.”
I learned later that as soon as this woman hung up with me, she called my daughter while she was in the middle of teaching and asked her for more money. My daughter asked to speak to the manager or owner. When she was connected with Kelly, the owner, she was told that they couldn’t honor the order placed on the website because there were FTD fees and the cost of the flowers were higher than shown on their website. And the reason she had an employee call both me and my daughter is that she just didn’t have the time to do it herself. There was no explanation as to why she called the intended recipient to ask to be paid more.
Of course, my daughter cancelled the order and called another Flagstaff florist, Robyn’s Flowers. She placed the order for what was pictured on their website as a nicer arrangement for less money.
On Friday, I received two bouquets from Robyn’s Nest Florist. When I called my daughter to thank her, I asked if she had ordered two bouquets. She said no, but she would call Robyn’s Nest and thank them for delivering them probably because she had told them how disappointed she had been with the customer service from Sutcliffe Floral. She called Robyn’s Nest and I immediately received a phone call telling me to choose which bouquet I wanted to keep and they would pick up the other one.
They got the second bouquet back with no argument since only one had been ordered but the end result was the loss of what would have been two future customers (me and my daughter) plus all the other people that we would have told about them.
The lesson from this experience: It just confirms the policy that my company has had since its inception is that if I make a mistake, I will eat the loss. I will not expect my customer to pay for my mistake. And, being on the receiving end of this fiasco created by two different local companies, I understand the truth in the statement that a happy customer will tell their friends while an unhappy one will tell everyone they can reach.