Saturday, July 31, 2010

How to Keep a Customer

It's no secret that the economy has STUNK the last year--for everyone. The Texas economy has fared better than most, but we have still had challenges.  At work they keep saying that they way to make it through challenging economic times is not just to have the best price, but to have the best service too. Truly loyal customers are ones that are happy with their interactions with a company as a whole.  The thought process goes that as the economy recovers, truly happy customers will stick with companies that have made them happy. 

This seems like a simple concept and I would assume that we aren't the only company that has adopted this strategy.  Recently I have had several very satisfying interactions with companies and several that really weren't. For instance, my husband and I have been flying JetBlue a bit.  If you want to sleep they have quieter flights since everyone is usually watching the in-flight TV's.  If I want to stay awake, the TV programming makes the time fly (pun intended).  My 6'2" hubby thinks the extra legroom is divine.  They don't charge for the first bag and they have always welcomed my dog riding under my seat. So, when I recently purchased tickets, then saw them advertised at a lower price, I sent them an email.  Without any more prompting than that, no emails back and forth about what tickets I was talking about...etc., they refunded the difference to me in an account I can use toward my next flight. Not only did they make me happy, they pretty much guaranteed the next time I fly I will look on their airline first.

When I ordered prints recently from Snapfish and the corners on one set were slightly bent, I emailed them.  I didn't expect them to send replacements, I just wanted to let them know that their packaging wasn't protecting their product.  But without asking, they FedExed replacements.  That is the kind of customer service that will keep me coming back for more.  And telling my friends that I like not just their prices, but their style.

On the other hand, I rented a car from Avis recently.  I turned it in full of gas, but they charged me for refilling the tank.  It took 5 phone calls and me sending in a credit card receipt as "proof I filled up the tank" for them to remove the charge.  When a customer calls to complain, as a company, you should look into the matter and promptly deal with the issue.  When you haggle with me over $25 after I spent several hundred renting your car, I am not interested in continuing to do business with you. And you can send me as many "We miss you" emails as you want.  Put your money where your mouth is and give me some real customer service.  I'm just sayin.