I walked into a bookstore with a list: a book for a client, a book and audiobook for a friend, and a CD for me. Three items nothing complex.
I went to the “information desk” and presented my needs. The lady at the counter, Ms. Janis McCarter, was friendly and smiley.
I asked her for the first book, Dig Your Well BEFORE You’re Thirsty (a book about networking), by Harvey Mackay. She fiddled with the computer and said they had sold out of the books on display, but she thought there were some at another location. She excused herself for a minute and returned with the book. Great!
The second book (and audiobook) I wanted was Love, Medicine & Miracles (a book about healing), by Bernie Siegel. She said, “I don’t have the audiobook but let me take you to the book. We walk about 50 feet. She gets the book off the shelf, and as she’s handing it to me she says, “Would you like me to call Barnes & Noble (across the street) to see if they have the audiobook?” I was stunned. “Yes, that would be nice.” I stammered.
Ms. McCarter said, “The music you want is upstairs, why don’t you go up there and find your CD, and I’ll take care of the rest. Just come back here when you’re done.”
Let’s look at the service lesson here. It was a monumental revelation to me after I thought about it.
First, Ms. McCarter went and got me the Harvey Mackay book. She didn’t send me on a search expedition like they do at most bookstores.
Second, Ms. McCarter had three options on the Bernie Siegel book. She could have…
1. Told me the book was over in the medicine section, and let me go find it.
2. Told me the book was on aisle thirteen, and show me to the aisle.
3. Led me to the book and found it for me.
She CHOSE option three.
Third, with the audiobook that was out of stock, Ms. McCarter had four service options. She could have…
1. Told me they’re out, and wait till I ask if they can order it.
2. Told me they’re out and ask, “Would you like me to order it for you?”
3. Suggested I try other stores (either mentioning their names or not).
4. Said to me, “Let me call them and find out if they have it. If they do, would you like me to reserve a copy for you?”
She CHOSE option four.
What Ms. McCarter did in all three situations was select the option that was the most trouble for her, the most work for her and the most satisfying for me. There’s a correlation there. A Law of Service that should be the credo of every service driven organization in America. The more you do for the customer the harder it is on you BUT, the more pleasing and the more memorable it will be to the customer. AND the more loyal the customer is likely to be. AND the more they are likely to tell positive (word-of-mouth advertising) stories about you.
Upstairs, the CD lady was just as nice. She hunted down the music I was looking for, and invited me behind the counter to search through their boxed set selection. I didn’t come in to buy a boxed set, but found myself trying to choose from four that I really wanted. I bought more than I came for.
I go back downstairs with my musical selections. Ms. McCarter catches my eye and says, “Good News! They had the audiobook over at Barnes & Noble. It’s waiting for you at the cashier with your name on it.” Cool.
I’m in the mood now. A buying mood. I start asking Ms. McCarter for everything I could think of and began selecting more books. OK, enough buying, now it’s time for the distasteful part, paying. I bring out my credit card to begin the grimacing ritual. Ms. McCarter sees what I’m doing and says, “This is the information desk. The cashier is over there. Let me take you there.” And grabs all my stuff before I can say a word.
The service lesson? Another three prong option. She could have said…
1. “The cashier is over there.” And let me drag my stuff over there myself.
2. “Let me help you take your stuff over there,” and make me wait in line.
3. “Let me take you over to the cashier and ring up your purchase myself.”
Ms. McCarter chose option three: most work for her, most pleasing to me, most memorable action.
Ms. McCarter did everything for me and I didn’t have to do the one thing I hate most in a bookstore, try to find what I want. She made books appear and I loved it and I kept looking for more things to buy. And I bought them. I left the store with 300 dollars worth of stuff instead of the 80 dollars worth of stuff I came in for, because the atmosphere was friendly and they made it easy for me to buy.
Success Question: How easy do you make it on your customers to do business with you?
Success Formula: The harder you make it on yourself, the easier it will be for the customer to buy.
Success Challenge: What kind of stories are your customers telling about you after they finish doing business with you?
Next week follow me over to Barnes & Noble for the rest of the story.
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