• 03:54:16 pm on June 24, 2009 | 1

    For what it’s worth

    The way things are these days, it’s more important than ever for companies to retain customers.  But at the same time those same customers are looking to save money and are more likely to go to a competitor who offers them a lower price.   This results in a precipitous ledge that your critical revenue and hard-won customer relationships could slip right over.

    I experienced this situation from the customer’s viewpoint just the other day.  For the first year, the oil changes on my car were covered by the factory so I faithfully brought the vehicle in every 3,000 miles, got the required service and owed nothing.  Then the meter ran out on my free oil changes and they started costing $29.95 at the dealership’s service shop.  One day I went to another dealership, one further away from home but one that, unlike my usual service provider, was open on Saturdays and discovered that I could get the oil changed there for only $9.95.  Wow! What a deal.  I got a few more oil changes there but went back to my original provider when I had a check-engine light because they were closer.  The service advisor asked me if I’d like to get the oil changed while I was in because it was almost due anyway.  I hated to say “no” but told him about the deal I’d been getting at the other shop.

    Now things could have gone several different ways at that point.  I might not have said anything to begin with.  The service advisor might have tried to play the “loyalty card” and tried to make me feel guilty for switching on him.  He might have just let it go without commenting.  Instead he asked me a question: “What brand of filter are they using?”  I told him that they used a well-known brand of filter.   “You know, that model has 30% less filter surface area than the original equipment filter we use and only costs our dealerships a little more than a dollar.”   He went on to add that his shop had recently issued a coupon for a $19.95 oil change using the better OEM filter and offered to set things up so I always got that price from now on even without the coupon.  I took him up on it and I’m sticking with him and his shop for my oil changes.

    Why?  Because he explained to me in a way that made sense and without resorting to slinging mud at the competition what it was worth to me to pay a little more for a superior service and product.  Before our brief conversation I thought all name-brand filters were pretty much the same.  I thought that price was the only variable.  But he educated me (a form of “selling”) and while he gave some concession on the price the shop still made a profit and he avoided losing my business entirely.

    It is possible for businesses to avoid having their customers make purchasing decisions solely on price.  Employees should be knowledgeable – either in the form of training or contextual delivery that offers advice on-the-fly – and should take every available opportunity to remind their customers what their product or service is worth to them.  Don’t take it for granted that customers know this.  The result can be a win for both as the customer gets a better overall value while the business retains more revenue.



  • Allen Bonde 5:14 pm on June 24, 2009 | # | Reply

    There’s also some good discussion around “old-fashioned” customer service and how different customers define value differently on the 1to1 blog (http://www.1to1media.com/weblog/)

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