The best form of advertising is word of mouth recommendation (wom) . Not only is it free but it is testimony to how happy your existing customers are with the service provided by your company. If you want your company to really expand I don’t think you can rely on this alone, but the amount of wom you generate is a great indicator of how your company is perceived in the market place.
Of course word of mouth feedback can be negative as well as positive, and as we all know bad news tends to travel further and quicker than good news. Therefore it’s all the more baffling when you hear about poor service from companies that should really know better.
A friend of mine recently bought a pair of boots and a pair of shoes ( a female friend surprisingly 🙂 ) from two different stores. The shoes were created by Stella McCartney and were bought from a well known store in the Manchester Trafford centre. A week after buying them the lining on the inside of the right shoe split, so armed with the receipt she decided to take them back. The Manager looked at them and advised her that nothing could be done as the fault was obviously due to the way she walked…..
My friend pointed out that she had had her feet all her life and this problem had never occurred with any other shoes she had purchased, but the Manager was insistent that she wouldn’t change the shoes or refund her money. Incensed by this attitude my friend wrote to Stella McCartney’s company explaining the situation, including comments about the attitude of the staff in the store where she had bought the shoes.
She duly received a letter apologising profusely for the problem with the shoes and offering a full refund on the purchase. To get the refund involved returning to the original store where, despite the letter and the receipt, it still took 20 minutes to persuade the Manager who dealt with the original complaint to process the refund.
How the Manager believes this approach is serving the store and enhancing its reputation is beyond me! Stella McCartney’s company have reacted well to the letter of complaint but suffer from the association of arrogant service provided by the staff in the Trafford centre store.
Contrast this with the experience my friend had with her boots. They were a pair of Jimmy Choo boots and after buying them she practically lived in them to the extent that she wore down the heel on them. They were obviously an expensive pair of boots and she wanted them repaired, but wanted to make sure that they were repaired to a suitable standard.
So she decided to ring Jimmy Choo’s customer service department and ask them where they would recommend she take them to have them repaired. She was quite happy to pay to have them repaired as she was delighted with the boots and they had already served her well. However, rather than give her a company near to where she lived, they insisted that she send the boots back to them where they would resole and reheel them free of charge.
For a relatively small investment of time and effort the return in the form of goodwill and word of mouth recommendation is tremendous. Yes, Jimmy Choo’s can be expensive but the quality of the product is only matched by the quality of the after sales service provided.
It is surprising how many companies still take customers for granted and view after sales service as a nuisance and an irrelevance. The culture at Jimmy Choo’s is clearly one where the customer experience is crucial to the success of the company.
Gaining new customers is hard work at the best of times and is even more difficult in today’s economic climate. All the more reason to take the long view, that looking after your current customer base will help retain them and encourage them to tell others just how great you are to do business with.
What more can you do to make the buying experience for your clients more memorable?