Little Things Mean a Lot

in Customer Service

In our busier-than-ever lives, where actual human connection is becoming rarer, crowded out by digital communication, the little things have even more impact. In sales, and our lives in general.

For the positive, and negative.

  • At my local bank branch, the associates greet me by name as soon as I walk in the door. My personal banker from years ago, who doesn’t really even have my account anymore and is in Omaha, still will call me if there’s an issue with one of my accounts that I should know about. I won’t consider leaving US Bank.
  • I got a handwritten thank you note from a handyman who did some minor repairs. It was scribbled on scrap paper, in broken English, and stuck in my door. Guess who I’ll be using again?
  • I’m no longer going to a local restaurant/bar where I was a regular, because the last time I was there with a large group of guests the owner, whom I’m acquainted with, gave us a rush treatment because he had another group coming and needed the room we were in later that night.

You certainly have your own experiences where a little thing made a big, long-lasting impact. And hopefully you DO those things as well to wow your prospects and customers. (Stay tuned, I’ll tell you how you can be in the drawing to win an OfficeRunner headset by sharing yours.)

One of our partners, Headsets.com is a great model for doing the little things. Here is an actual voice message from one of their customers after she received a Snickers bar from her rep.
PLAY AUDIO

In their previous phone conversation the customer had mentioned to Jake that she liked Snickers, so the rep took the initiative to buy an oversized Snickers and send it to her. That worked out pretty well, didn’t it?

I told Mike Faith, the President and CEO of Headsets.com that I planned on using this recording as part of this Tip, and he offered to share a great slide presentation they put together about their customer service practices, and how they do lots of little things for their customers. Check it out here… great stuff.

And, then we decided to take things a step further and get you involved. There are lots of service and sales books that retread the same old Nordstrom-type stories about great service. But the best ones are from people like you.

We’d like to get your “little things mean a lot” story. We ran a brief promotion and those who submitted their story were entered into a drawing to win an  OfficeRunner headset from Headsets.com.  It’s the one I use, and sells for $319.

The winner was Steve Martin and you can see his submission below. Congrats Steve.

And, even though the contest is over, we’d still like your story. Please do share your experience below.

 

 

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Hagen May 21, 2014 at 10:57 am

Love your articles, Art! On Monday I made an order at Case Logic and paid extra for 2-day delivery. On Wednesday I had heard nothing about my order being shipped so I called their 1-800 number. To my surprise a real person answered the phone immediately. She put me on hold as she checked on my order. Came back to me and transferred me to another guy who knew exactly what the issue was and took care of it. Plus, refunding me my shipping charges and will be shipping my order over night. This is great customer service!

One thing I do in my business is when I promote a workshop and people register I call them personally to thank them for registering. They are always so surprised!

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Kyle Sapp May 21, 2014 at 11:02 am

Art,

Love your stuff and really appreciated you giving me a call a few weeks ago.

One of the ‘little things’ we do as inside sales reps is send $5 Starbucks gift cards in a hand written letter to our strong prospects. I was genuinely surprised how much it meant to the prospects. We regularly get calls back saying how much they appreciated the hand-written letter.

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John Holstein May 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

As a person who highly respects quality customer service I am most pleased to report the following experience and example.

The Sagamore Resort is located in upstate New York on Lake George. A few years ago they went through virtually an entire revision of their customer service protocols and programs. The epitome of this is exemplified in their greeting whenever you call the front desk for literally anything at all. The greeting you get is “Consider it done. How can I help you?”

In my opinion this is simply outstanding.

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Keith Bird May 21, 2014 at 11:20 am

I offer online and print solutions by telephone to educators at school boards, public iibraries and school librarians across Canada. When shipping catalogues they have chosen I include a free book: The History of Canada, published by our company.

Often this title finds its way to the staff room where more educators are introduced to our company. Not only is thanks received on follow calls but rapport is stregthened.

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Russ Turner May 21, 2014 at 11:25 am

Art- Great blog. Just a quick story and it goes back 25 years when my wife and I were just starting and had very little money. My wife had a hundred dollar bill and went to Nordstrom to try to find and outfit for a wedding we were to attend. While shopping she lost the hundred dollar bill some how and begin to cry. A Nordstrom Employee saw her crying and asked what was wrong. My wife sobbing explained what happened. The Nordstrom Employee told my wife don’t worry I will take care of it. That employee and another helped my wife pick out a complete outfit including shoes. They went well over the hundred dollars my wife had lost and gave it all to her at no charge. I bet over the years I have told this story to 100 or more people. My wife and I have three kids all grown now but all of thier shoes and most of thier cloths growing up all came from Nordstrom from that day forward. My wife also still shops at Nordstrom. I will never forget the lesson I learned from Nordstrom.

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Jenna Strickland May 21, 2014 at 11:26 am

Art,

Your sales tips have been a huge help for me. Thank you for all you do to improve others!

At my company I was trained that a personal touch goes a very long way. Every new customer that places an order with me gets a hand written thank you letter and a gift package in the mail. The gifts are not extravagant (company knife, money clip, note tablets, candy, or pens). The gifts do not have to be over the top. The simple thought that someone took the time to write in a card and send something through the mail tends to be enough. I cannot tell you how many second orders I have received thanks to this. For my regular customers, I do the same. Every few orders they know to expect a little package in the mail. This past Christmas one of my newer clients sent a package to my office thanking me for my services for the year. It is a wonderful feeling to be appreciated. The road definitely goes both ways.

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Larry Morris May 21, 2014 at 11:53 am

Art, Yopur’s is one of the few regular emails that I receive that I make a point in reading. You also have good tips

A couple of things taht I do as a mortgage consultant:

* Attend all of my closings. Not all lenders ill do things and its a great opportunity to solidify relationships, gather referrals and answer questions that only I can answer.

* Have a sit down de-briefing with the Realtor afterwards to discuss what went right and wrong and how to improve the service.

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Tom Wille May 21, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for the emails Art! I enjoy reading them and implementing some your techniques and ideas into my everyday tasks with customers.

I am a big believer in doing all of the little things to separate myself from the competition. In my industry we sell a commodity product that resellers can get from anyone. They buy from me because I add value and I care about their business.

One such way I made a lasting impression on my customers was I hand wrote over 100 holiday cards this past December. I received so many calls upon my customers receiving the cards and they were beyond thrilled not just about the card but about the fact that I hand wrote it and sent it to them. Each card had a different message that was geared toward that customer. I have increased my sales immensely as a result of this.

In this day and age of technology, there are still some non-technology things we can do for our customers that will make a positive impression on them for a long time to come. Don’t be afraid to hand write thank you cards and holiday cards. It will help separate you from the pack.

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Dave Martin May 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

In a previous role I was an sales manager of regional account reps. I was on my own one evening for dinner before a trade show. Being off duty, I had changed into shorts and a t-shirt. I wandered around looking for a place to grab a bite to eat and walked into what I thought was a neighborhood pub. It turned out to be a fairly high end seafood restaurant. In the past I had found that dining alone and being dressed down generally resulted in little attention being paid to me by the waitstaff. Not bad service per se, but a lack of service. Not so at this place. My waitress was friendly, attentive and made an excellent recommendation on which meal to order. I was so pleased with the service that when I returned to my hotel I went online and left feedback though the feedback link on their website.

The following evening I was taking 3 customers and my local account rep out for dinner. I returned to the same restaurant and requested the same server. She was off, but the manager came out and greeted me and thanked me for my positive feedback (apparently being a loner, giving the wait person’s name in my feedback and the feedback being positive made me stand out as a customer). We were treated to a private room with an exceptional view and the wait staff was impeccable. Over that same week, I went back a third time with a different set of customers with the same exceptional service.

Eating alone generally means not spending a lot compared to larger parties. Treating me as well as larger parties while I was alone resulted in me returning and spending several hundred dollars on multiple occasions. The restaurant was Clinkerdagger in Spokane, WA.

I try to remember this experience when working with my smaller accounts. I treat them with the same level of attentive professionalism as accounts who spend far more because taking care of them while they’re small means their spending with me will grow as they grow.

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Pat Boyle May 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Art,
Thank you for your book it has helped me with my calling.
Little things
1) The one I use is to send an industry specific book. They never get thrown away and it has moved conversations along when they are stalled. Often they get handed to someone else so always tape your business card to inside cover. Then write a quick note and sign it.
2) Send the cartoon comic. A picture of a king with his sword in the air saying “No, I don’t have time for any sales people, I have a war to fight!” Outside the back of the tent is a guy selling a gattling gun.
3) Drop off a bucket of bagels with my business card taped to 2 sides of the box for the person I am trying to see.
4) shoot a short video on your phone or laptop and email it. Video is powerful. Humor is more powerful but be careful.
Patrick Boyle
Select OrthoDME Solutions

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Mark May 30, 2014 at 8:51 am

Hi Pat,
When you send the comic, do you send it in a card? Do you write anything with the comic? I have that same one and I have sent it out a few times but no reply.

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Kelly Roberts May 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I work with wedding and party vendors nationwide. I have worked in sales fields since 1999, in 2008 I started with http://www.weddingandpartynetwork.com and know hold the top sales representative position in my department. My coaches brag on my repour with clients, it’s not just a sale. It’s a opportunity for the client and I to connect on a business level. With technology being so advanced these days, there is so many companies that know they need to be online and they are with a website yet they struggle with reaching their target audience in the locations they service due to corporate online companies that show up everywhere and of course offer prices that local companies can not keep up with. When I sign a new client, renew existing one I link to website and all social media. Time to manage their social media is nearly impossible for owners so they hire social managers for this, I will search for things the company has and link to it so they do not have to put me on list to call and link once they are officially social. I send them emails letting them know I am taking care of them daily and send them thank you notes for the opportunity to work with them. Every holiday I send emails and cards to each of clients wishing them happy holidays with their families. I have a few I send token of appreciation to and few of them I’m sure to visit when in their area. I follow my vendors socially and interact with them sharing their posts and tagging their posts to customers that are planning events in their area. I have an 89.2% renewal rate with vendors and many call me an online angel. I am only required to provide customer service when they call and renew them once a year but I consider it much more than that. They are trusting me with their company and their ability to increase their business so while I don’t have to do these things I do because I know it places value to them and it also takes care of my family with the commission I receive off each account. I love what I do, I often get stressed from a sales job but at the end of day I thank god, my company for investing in me and all my clients for trusting me with their business in this tough tough economy. Sales is great, a sales person who cares about their clients and what they are attempting to do online is priceless. Thanks for opportunity to share.

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Calvin Peacock May 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I work at a long term drug and alcohol treatment center for young men in Ottawa Ontario. Currently I am the fundraising coordinator and manage a team of 20 guys who are all in the program, however I was a resident in the program initially. Our ministry is unique in a number of ways, one of them being that it is a Christian organization and the majority of the funding raised to keep the place going is done by it’s residents through our call center.
Almost all of the young men come from the court system, their addictions leading them to committing crimes and getting arrested, and all have had terrible experiences in life.
One of the little things that we do to develop a connection with our donors is share a brief story of our lives, how drugs and alcohol affected our lives, what our rock bottom was like, and how our lives are changing since coming to the program. These details are always very personal and difficult to share with a stranger over the phone, but it helps develop a personal connection and build rapport.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post!

Calvin

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Michael Lang May 21, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Hi Art, I really enjoy the emails and I have used a number of your ideas. I work in the Insurance industry as a personal lines manager and I also have my own numbers that I must hit. Enough about me, the story that I have is about a dining experience at a truck stop. My son works at a company which is across the street from a truckers city. Im not sure if you know what this is but its a place for truck drivers to eat, shower, and relax. Not all in the same area. I arrived early one day while picking him up and decided to grab a bite at the Iron Kettle restaurant in tbe truck stop. After a very good meal and service I received the check along with a note from the waitress. It said “Love what you have in your life, your job, your family and stay in control of your future. God bless and be safe Robi”. This happened about 7 montbs ago and I still carry that note with me.

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Ann Mayer May 21, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Hi Art
I’ve been following you for years. Think I got your tips first in 2004 and yours is one newsletter I always read right through. The tips keep me reminded of the things I know and sometimes forget. My special moment came when I ordered some lights on line. I thought it a bit funny that I didn’t get a confirmation of the order, but just waited for the lights to arrive. Two days later I got a phone call and was asked if I had made an order. I said ‘yes’. The Customer Service representative then said she was ringing all the Mayers in the phone book, starting with the initial A, but prepared to call all. (It was lucky this is New Zealand and they are only about 50 entries in the book)
Their on line ordering service had had a malfunction and all they had was the credit card payment and the name on the card. She had taken the initiative to find me rather than let me call and say I hadn’t received the goods! I thought this was excellent and she said she was pleased that my initial was A and that I was at that place in the phone book.
And that wasn’t the end of it. One of the products I had ordered was now on special so she refunded the difference. The goods arrived the next day.
I was so impressed and have used this story in my customer service training programmes ever since to illustrate to what lengths some people will go to provide excellent service.

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Roy Luce May 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm

This is a story about the customer reaching out to the suppliers.
Every year at Christmas I take a large can of popcorn – 3 flavors – to 7 organizations that provide services to me on a regular basis:
– my mail carrier
– the auto service center where I take the family vehicles
– my village’s admin, police and road department
– the local rental center where I spend a fortune every year, and
– my Bank of America branch
to express my appreciation for them being there all year.
The impact on the service and consideration I receive as a result of this small expression of my appreciation is hard to measure but I’m always greated with a “Roy!” whenever I find it necessary to use any of the services, rarely have to wait to be waited on and I no longer have problems with snow being plowed in front of and blocking access to the mailbox.

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Margaret Copeland May 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

First I have to say that I love what you write. I can’t think of a time I walked away from the computer after reading one of your emails without having something to think about.

I bought a house out in Iowa about ten years ago. It was 100 years old and I bought it in part because I loved so many things about that particular era. The real estate listened to me gush about the original wood fired cook stove. When I closed on the house, she gave me a cast iron cornbread pan with a hand written recipe for making corn bread that must have been as old as the stove. The directions included using a broom straw to test whether it was done! I cried and then recommended her to everyone I knew as a real estate agent who actually listens to what you say you want.

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Mark Pearce May 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Thank you for allowing us to share our ideas, Art. I won my largest client (£1.3m spend PA) all from sending out a £2.50 get well greeting card. An MD of a company broke his ankle playing football, I found out about it and sent him a card. None of his suppliers at the time wished him a speedy recovery.

From that point forward I have found that cards make a huge impact on people. Naturally the theme and purpose has to be relevant to send the card. I have won a lot of other business from sending out thank you cards to clients who have given me an important reference for someone through to sending someone a card to their office when they start a new job, so that they have something welcoming on their first day.

My mother always said to be grateful for the things you have and to put yourself in other’s shoes before acting. Mum’s know best!

Best wishes, Mark

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Jamie Ericson May 21, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I love Art’s information. Although this isn’t directly related to “calling” for sales, it is directly to how important it is to take care of the client. I ran into a former policyholder 2 years after she left the company I provided policies to her through. She had let the policies lapse, but as we were “catching up” we uncovered a claim that happened with one of her 4 boys when she was working at the company. I ran home, checked on the dates, and sure enough she was active with the policies at the time. Took a claim form over, and my company ended up paying her $1400 on her claim TWO years after she dropped her policies. That’s why I represent my company…there is nothing more satisfying than taking care of a client or former client with nothing to gain, but because it is the right thing to do. I imagine I have been paid back ten fold in sharing what my company did, to potential new policyholders. Doing the right thing will pay you back down the road and what a feeling knowing you helped somebody! Keep providing the great information Art. Thanks!

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Kelly Panzanaro May 22, 2014 at 3:13 am

When I started my new job there were many clients I didn’t have a relationship with. When I met a big producer for the first time I learned he was getting married in 3 weeks in Jamaica. I arranged to have a bottle of champaign delivered to his room. 8 years later he is a loyal producer who tells others I am the best to work with. I do this often when I know my best clients are on vacation and it’s easy to arrange.

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Alex Talos May 22, 2014 at 5:09 am

Great article, you always put a little pep in my step. I needed some PA equipment for event. I called the usual website that I relied on when I was in need. They do a great job as far as website vendors go. In this occasion they didn’t have the product I needed and I would have to wait a few extra days. I stumbled upon one of their smaller competitors “sweatwater.com” and gave them a call. They had the product, matched the price, and it showed up 1 day early. This was great but not enough to make me go to them in the future. The next day I get a phone call to see if I had received the product, had any issues getting it work, and to see the product lived up to my expectations, and this call was from the same person that I made the purchase from. I was sold. It gets even gets better. The next time I called they connected me to the same salesperson that help me on my first order.

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Allison May 22, 2014 at 5:42 am

At Hooper Handling, Inc. we try and remember something about our customers so that when we speak to them we can ask them how it is going. Example, if they just had a grand child we will ask how they are prior to getting down to business. Making a personal connection first can make the customer feel more comfortable as well as feel as if you care. The “little things” have gotten us very far.

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Steve Horowitz May 22, 2014 at 6:12 am

Little Things.

I am in the mortgage industry and in today’s world have to tell too many people that they do not qualify for a mortgage. Recently, I gave a potential client, that I couldn’t help, a game plan to help herself and her family. A few days later I recieved a call from a friend of hers, who I was able to help.

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Tim Mc Lellan May 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

I am sharing a story of what happened to me courtesy of Randy Sampson, owner of Canterbury Park Horse Race Track in Shakopee, MN. It was the 3rd of July and the busiest day of the year for Canterbury. I brought about 30 of my relatives to celebrate my parents 60th wedding anniversary to the track. I wanted to sponsor a race for $100 to have my parents have their picture taken in the winner’s circle. Randy would not take my money. Instead he gave it to us for free. He had their names written on the scoreboard and had their night in the winner’s circle broadcast on the TV screens all over the track. The PA announcer made nice comments about them as 15,00o fans cheered for my parents. It was the highlight of their year. Guess what , Randy made 30 loyal fans that night in addition to my cousin cutting a business deal with him that made Canterbury tens of thousands of $$$ later in the year.

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Allen K May 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Memorable customer service stays with you, either good or bad.

The Good: I had a new Coach briefcase that after only a couple of weeks, the stitching of the handle broke. I called their customer service department and they were engaging and helpful. They explained that I would need me to ship the case back to them and they would either repair it or give me a brand new case, depending on the condition. They set a very proper expectation.
After they had replace the case with a brand new case, a week later I received a check for the shipping costs to reimburse me for my shipping costs, which i did not request. I have been a fan of the company ever since.

The Bad: During dinner at a local Italian restaurant, a meal was horrible and not fit for consumption. I spoke with the manager, who started to argue, and then picked up the food with his hands and said it tasted fine to him. I told him, he should continue to eat it as I will not, and departed the establishment. Needless to say, the next month the restaurant closed.

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Sambit May 23, 2014 at 6:18 am

Anybody who has stayed with Taj hotels (specially vivanta by Taj) or the uber luxury palaces in India or anywhere else- will have some story to tell here. I have a personal story- which shows they always do small and simple things and thus have many repeat customers – year over year. I was once awarded a holiday with family based on great yearly performance. I landed up in Taj property in seaside resort. My kid was only 2 years old and a super active kid. The dedicated Valet of the floor I was staying- came up with warm milk as part of turn down service. Whenw e were going out for a road trip- the f&b manager- packed special water bottles, snacks for the kid. These were all very inexpensive things, but showed in every step that they care for all guests. I may not be the highest spender for them or largest group; but they will have me as repeat guest/ repeat customer because I felt special.

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Tammy Dietzler May 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Hi Art,
My husband and I happened to stop by a car dealer where we have purchased several vehicles in the past due to the high level of service. We were not planning on stopping, but saw a car on display that was exactly what we had talked about. Unfortunately, we had the family dog with. Our over-the-top salesperson not only walked and watered the dog while we took the car for a spin, but the following weekend sent us a flyer advertising the many models of cars they had that were pet friendly. Now that’s service!

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Chris Kennedy May 25, 2014 at 7:21 am

This not-so-little act of kindness went a long way.

I have been friends with a Business Coach for a number of years. We have talked about me hiring him to help in my business, but just never finalized a deal. I strongly believe in the power of using a coach in business, and have had the help of one previously.

I gave a referral to my friend (The Coach), and a few days later, I get a text asking the name of a couple of my favorite charities. Then, a few hours later I receive an email forward that he has giving $100 to my church! Wow!

Needless to say, that was a pretty big deal and just recently when a few of my goals shifted to needing a coach’s help, guess who was the only person I would even consider hiring? You guessed it! The Coach, the thoughtful giver. The one who gave to a cause very near and dear to my heart.

Givers always win in the end. By putting others interests first, you are actually inspiring others to put yours first.

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steve martin May 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I drop off my dry cleaning to a local Hy-Vee Supermarket each week because they partner with a dry cleaner who does a great job, offer a discount and it is convenient to my home. The customer service attendants know my name, my starch preference on shirts and my phone number without even looking at the previous week pick up sheet. I go back because they make me feel important as a customer even though it is business for one of their vendors.

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Kim S. May 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm

With one of our long-time clients, we know more about his personal life then we do most of our friends; and, we never have to ask for business. Personally we have horses and when we had a foal born that was a male, we named him after this client. This was a couple of years ago and he still talks about “his boy” and asks for pictures. We still never have to ask for business and he is one of our largest clients.

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Dominic Bergfeld May 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Art,

I have been receiving and reading your emails for about a year now and love getting advice from a pro like yourself.

My most memorable experience that comes to mind when thinking of “the little things” was when I had to buy new tires for my car. I went to my local Sam’s Club to get a quote and after the technician looked at my tires he gave me two options, one brand that cost $100/tire and another that cost $150/tire. I (stupidly) said “I have no clue what is what when it comes to tires, what is the difference?” He responded “There is no difference at all, you’re just getting a more popular name with the more expensive ones, I would personally go with the cheaper ones.” That happened about 5 years ago and I still tell the story anytime anyone mentions having to get new tires. The service technician had every opportunity to take advantage of me and instead he saved me $200, he is the reason I will only buy my tires from Sam’s club from now on.

I have used this technique with my customers when it comes to what I sell, pipe. Plenty of times engineers tell the contractors that they need certain coatings on the pipe I sell that will cost them a lot extra when in all reality they can get by with very cheap coatings that do the same things the expensive ones do. I have had customers tell me that the only reason they were able to make any money on a construction project was because of me pushing them to get the cheaper coating approved. They know that I could make more money if they had to use the expensive coating and tell me how much they appreciate the extra effort I went to to save them money instead of make myself more. I share my customers praise with new prospects which I think helps get me calls instead of me having to make them.

Thanks again for all your wisdom, Art!

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John Bonnemort May 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Art,
Great information is hard to find. We all get to much ‘mis-information’ and your articles are truly Value Add. One thing that I try to do often is to simply compliment people. A kind word goes a long way.

Keep up the great work.

Best Regards,

John

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Ron Haynes May 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Art!
A couple of Christmases back, I took a job out of state and was traveling back and forth the 350 miles home on the weekends. It was Christmas Eve in the late afternoon and I was on the road when I realized that my alternator was going out. No one was open and I still had about 4 hours left to get home when I came upon a NAPA Auto parts. The store employees were locking up and heading home themselves but reopened the store and sold me the alternator I needed. I went to the parking lot to begin the relatively easy task of replacing it on my 1990 Ford Bronco as the guys left to go home. I was about 5 minutes into it when the assistant manager pulled up in the parking lot and told me he just couldn’t let me stay there alone in the cold knowing that it was Christmas Eve and I still had a long way to go home. He helped me get the new one installed, recharged my Bronco’s battery, and sent me on my way. I’ve never forgotten it and have appreciated NAPA ever since. I wrote the District Manager and told him about it but never heard back.

That was some great customer service and it was timely too. And very much appreciated.

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Larry Bob May 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I manage the sales team and really appreciate the information we get from your column.

At Easi File we take great pride in our customer service and make a conscious effort to exceed our customer’s expectations. Earlier this year we received an order from a customer in Las Vegas, which we processed and shipped the same day. The following day I received this email from them: “You must have your own plane parked outside, the package arrived this morning. Great service!” That’s what we strive for with every order.

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Nicola Hames May 29, 2014 at 2:24 am

Little Things Mean a Lot Idea:
We prepare a Welcome Board for all guests to our office. It is a very simple 0ne-page PowerPoint Presentation screen which looks similar to a compliment slip (with our logo but not the address). On it are displayed the company logos of all the companies visiting the office on that day with a banner saying ‘Our Company Name Welcomes’ at the top. When the visitors arrive and see that we have taken the time to look for their logo and put it on a nice colourful computer screen in the foyer; they are over the moon. “Oh that’s nice” is a common response to the welcome.

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David Hunter May 29, 2014 at 4:18 am

I frequent a local grocery store, Heinen’s, to get my lunches (they have premade subs, sandwiches, wraps, salad bar, etc.). Well, a few weeks ago I was running around for work and wanted to grab my lunch, but it was only 10:00am. Nothing was out. Bummer I thought. Then, one of the team members ask if they could help me and I ask if I could get a turkey sub. She went in the back room and five minutes later came out with a freshly made turkey sub, all while having a smile on her face!

They could have said it’s not lunch time yet, but they went above and beyond. Got to love businesses that have amazing customer service!

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Alison Lisberg May 29, 2014 at 6:24 am

Hi Art! I love your emails and the way you write. You give great advice that I use every day.

One day when I was making calls, I called a customer that we hadn’t reached out to in a very long time. After I had introduced myself the customer blurted out to me that his wife had just been diagnosed with cancer and could I help him. I could hear that this man was in tremendous pain. I told him how sorry I was and asked him to tell me about his wife. We spent about 45 minutes on the phone. Near the end of the call I told him about a cancer center that my girlfriend’s brother had gone to in my area and that I would be happy to send him the information. I wished him well and told him I would follow up with him in a month. He thanked me for listening and talking with him and we hung up. I immediately gathered the information and email it to him for the cancer center. I called a couple of weeks later and spoke with the receptionist just to see how things were without having to bother him. She told me that they were at the place I told him about and they were waiting to hear. I called again at the month reminder and spoke with the customer. His wife had passed away a week earlier but that he was grateful to me for providing him with the information. I will never forget this experience as long as I live. Even strangers can provide comfort and understanding in our worst of times. It is the little things we do that make all the difference.

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Rob Sinclair May 30, 2014 at 3:06 am

Hi Art,
Thanks for the support and sharing your knowledge and experience,
it really helps in these tough times.
“I cold called a large office block on foot and had a conversation with the receptionist during which I commented on the lack of plants and greenery in the reception area, the receptionist had been told that if she wanted a plant to brighten up the reception area why did she not bring one in herself (which she intended to do) however I had a good number of evergreen plants in my garden, put one in a plant pot and dropped it into her…………a bonus was that each time I called up one of the companies in the block I was put through,no problem!”

Keep up the good work,

Rob

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James May 30, 2014 at 4:47 am

Here is a recent experience I had when my wife and I were vacationing in Europe, we were arriving in Scotland from Greece at 2 am. Adding transfer from the airport, I told the hotel we would be there around 3 am and paid for the full nights accommodation. We were booked into a suite and checked-in pretty exhausted, but when we got to the room, we found no bedding on the bed! We were pretty annoyed to say the least. The night staff accommodated us by giving us a standard room, saying that they would leave a note for the day staff. After a few hours sleep, we went for breakfast, stopping at reception to enquire about our suite. I said to the receptionist “we checked-in earlier this morning but our room wasn’t ready” to which I got the response “we have already taken the cost of the room off the bill” amongst an apology. We were heading out for the day so we moved our bags into the suite and returned later to the room. I was pretty annoyed up until that point. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in many countries over the years and been dissatisfied with the way problems have been dealt with, but the way this hotel dealt with the problem was refreshing. They knew about the problem, they knew what they needed to do, and they compensated us for their failure. Too many companies have tied-up their front-line staff in red-tape that they can’t provide fast solutions to problems. After seeing how they dealt with this problem, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their hotel, but more importantly, they understood the importance of putting the customer first.

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Eddie B May 30, 2014 at 5:01 am

Your articles are very informative and worthwhile. My story entails buying morning donuts for the client on friday’s. I am a client-centered salesman and always look for ways to get an edge on the competition, so, when I won a very competitive bid on a copier sale, I wanted to make sure my client felt that they had made the correct decision. I did this by always having a dozen donuts avaliable for the staff every friday morning for the first month after installment. They were very appreciative and this gave me creditability that will last for future purchases.

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Mark May 30, 2014 at 5:13 am

Hi Art,
Thanks for all the great tips and ideas in your emails and on your blog! I tend to reread them as the months go by for inspiration.

One thing I constantly hear is that once a sales guy writes the customer’s business they never hear from him again unless there is a renewal. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I certainly take advantage of it. I put together a service timeline to illustrate all the things that I will do for a client throughout the year. This could be mid year review, delivery of policies, claims review, safety meetings etc and I let them know this is a way to hold me accountable. I say, if at the end of the year I haven’t done these things then I would expect to be fired! Then I enter all these items into my calendar and follow through on my promise. Some people love it, some people could care less but I think its an important way to separate myself from the competition.

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Laura May 30, 2014 at 5:24 am

Art,
“Little Things Mean a Lot”
Recently I was out visiting one of my customers and my pre-call to let him know I was coming I could tell he had a cold coming on. I stopped at the local drug store and picked him up some cough drops, Kleenex, and some chicken noodle soup. He was so thankful that he has not forgotten that gift. My market share from that customer went from 38% to 78% the next month.

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Linda May 30, 2014 at 5:27 am

Last week I had an appointment at the imaging center of a local hospital. My appointment was at 5:00. Typically I am very prompt and prepared, but on this particular day I was not. Arriving for my appointment at 5:04, I quickly realized that I had left the doctors prescription for my test in another purse. The lady that greeted me said that she would check with my doctor to see if he could fax or email the imaging orders, but being after hours she was unable to reach him. She didn’t give up, and went on to her computer to see if perhaps the order was on record. While checking she noted that I had missed my originally scheduled appointment, and perhaps the orders were there, (eek). They were not. Then she checked under this scheduled appointment and there it was. While she was checking, my cell phone rang. I took a quick look and noticed that it was from someone that I don’t hear from often, which caused me concern. After the lady that had helped me took me to the changing room, I decided I had better make a quick call back to make sure all was well with the caller, and as it turned out, there was bad news. While still on the phone, and not yet changed, I heard my name called and they were ready for my test. I hadn’t yet filled out the forms that they had instructed me to fill out. I peeked out of the changing room and it was the same nice lady that had found my prescription. I asked her to give me a few minutes. She smiled and said that they do their best to get their patients in and out quickly. I hurried, changed and as she was walking me to the testing room told her that I appreciated her patience with me, and told her that I’m not usually the problem patient, her kindness was appreciated and that I had done everything possible to aggravate her, yet she was still pleasant and had been most helpful. Her response was “I’m just glad you’re here. This test is very important to maintain good health”. After my test was complete and I was leaving, she got up from her desk and approached me and said “Thank you for coming, and your doctor will contact you with the results soon”. Keep in mind, that this was a routine test, not something critical, and I was their last patient of the day! The next day I stopped by the imaging center to drop off a small bouquet for Lyn. She remembered me and was thrilled. I also submitted a note to the hospital telling them of the wonderful Customer service that I had received and how comfortable that makes me in dealing with their hospital.

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Pam B May 30, 2014 at 5:28 am

The company I work for re-manufacturers toner cartridges and one of our customers needed a cartridge delivered to their end user right away. They had missed the cutoff for shipping so we had a courier company deliver the product to ensure that their customer was taken care of.

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Charmaine Mosteller May 30, 2014 at 5:36 am

I had a customer who owned a small company. He told me on the phone one day that he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He expected to be fine with treatment. I mailed him a hand written note that he was in my thoughts and prayers. His next call he seemed a little confused. The call after that his wife had to help him. His last couple of calls he said all looked good and he was doing well. A few weeks after that I got a call from his wife. Due to the chemo affecting his immune system, he became ill and was gone with a couple of days. She was cleaning out his desk and found where he had saved my card. She called to let me know he had passed away and how much my card meant to him when he was a “little customer” for us.
Except there is no such thing as a “little customer”. We might be very imporant to a customer who is very small for us.

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Donna Karen Rosenblum May 30, 2014 at 6:00 am

Our company logo is a Giant Panda bear. We give small stuffed Panda bears to new customers and all our customers can add the same stuffed Panda bear for one penny when they make an online purchase. This may not sound like a big deal, but many of our clients (especially the pediatricians!) love the little stuffed animals and buy one every time they make a purchase from our web site.

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David Lozowsky May 30, 2014 at 6:05 am

When customers call me with issues I listen closely to hear what the real problem is, often asking clarifying questions to be sure I understand the problem. If I can resolve their issue on the spot I will do so, even if they are not my direct responsibility. My attitude is ALL of our customers are my customers. If someone else needs to be involved, I’ll make the contact internally rather than tell the customer “This is who you need to call” This action prevents the customer from feeling like a ping pong ball being bounced around and instead demonstrates their value to our company.

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Willie Collins May 30, 2014 at 6:06 am

Hello Art,
Thank you for the continuous support to the sales industry. This one may sound familiar to you.
I once called a consultant and explained to him a situation I had gotten into and told him that at the moment I didn’t have the money to pay him at that time, I went forward to ask him for his services and offered to pay him as the after I used the knowledge that he provided. He repeated the question to me to be sure that he understood me correctly and went forward to provide me with service as I requested. When I asked him for a method to send him his payment he inform me that he had given me this service as a gift. Anytime I speak with other people now with a similar problem to what I had his name is the only one I mention. I now consider myself an AWESOME sales person. Thanks Art

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Debbie May 30, 2014 at 6:18 am

At the end of the day, what’s important is that my customers are successful. I like to let new potential customers know that when we partner, I bring two “tool kits’ . One is my expertise. If that can help them succeed, great! The second is my wonderful network of colleagues that I can refer if there is something they can offer that will help the customer succeed. They are always appreciative.

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Liz Kerr May 30, 2014 at 6:31 am

The leasing company I work for answers the phone it’s a great day at CLC how may I help you. You would not believe the number of people that respond with it is a great day and most of them tell you to have a great day when you transfer or help them with a problem. Little things like how you answer the phone makes a difference in the conversation that you have with the customer.

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Mary Jo Bergs May 30, 2014 at 6:47 am

Art,

I’ve read your newsletter for years and, once again, thank you for all the tips. It has helped me to do a better job, and be more successful building lasting relationships. Considering all the above comments, it seems you’ve done a great job of teaching us all to stand out from the crowd Art. Congrats to your success!

The thing I work hardest to do is to build a lasting relationship. Selling products that are unique but not irreplaceable means having to do things that stand out and add value to both my company and our products. To that end, I send hand written thank you notes on first orders, then again every couple orders. The first notes are often boxed, blank cards; the second notes are hand made and make the envelope ‘lumpy’. Holidays means a hand written note signed by myself, our CEO and Director of Operations. Each order is followed up with an email or phone call (depending on their preference) to make sure their product was received without issue, so if there is an issue, it can be addressed and resolved immediately. I also tap into some of my clients’ experience, so that I can learn from them which is an amazing experience in itself.

Keep up the great work Art!
Mary Jo

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Patricia Ewald May 30, 2014 at 6:49 am

I have a customer with several injection molding machines. each machine requires a different size, style and quantity of band heaters. They do routine maintenance, and order heaters frequently. We had originally created one quote for all the heaters for all the machines. When it came time to order, he couldn’t easily determine which heater went with what machine. We decided to created an Excel spreadsheet for each of his machines. It listed the number of zones, the heater sizes, the quantity needed for each, the part numbers, a quote number to reference, and a reference to the last time they ordered each one. We also created part numbers specifically for them to use when ordering custom heaters, since they order frequently. Now when he needs to order heaters, he simply opens the spreadsheet, clicks on the tab for the machine he’s working on and all of the info is at his finger tips. He is so grateful, that we took time to simplify the ordering process, and has started to order other items from us as well. This little thing helped build a relationship, and great customer. It was worth the extra work.

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Jean Jones May 30, 2014 at 7:32 am

As an independent contractor and outbound telephone professional I find myself appreciating the kindness of the front desk receptionist/gatekeeper. Recently, after calling numerous car dealerships with a few somewhat negative front desk responses, I was lucky enough to be greeted by a bright positive voice. After my initial conversation, I thanked the receptionist for speaking with me and she responded, “I enjoy my job, I get paid to speak to people on the phone all day!” Needless to say I appreciated her attitude! I would even go so far as to say that with this front desk representative managing their “gate”, this dealership must be doing well. I know I will look forward to calling back. The decision maker that hired this person must be a smart manager indeed!

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Mardell Millis May 30, 2014 at 7:54 am

Hi Art, I love your emails and excellent ideas for helping clients get what they want. I try to provide good customer service myself, but after reading some of these ideas, I will be stepping up my game! When a client gives me a referral, whether or not that referral does business with me, I send the client a hand written thank you card and a gift card from Tim Hortons. I also send thank you cards for clients that meet with me and when they do business with me. I try to show my appreciation as much as possible.
Thanks Art, keep up the excellent work!
Mardell

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Castorag May 30, 2014 at 7:54 am

I have two excellent customer service stories. Even if they’re from companies that are renowned for their excellent customer service, it’s still almost breathtaking how good they are.
1) I was an impoverished single mother and bought myself a used but quite serviceable Eddie Bauer down coat at a garage sale for five bucks. It was perfect, though a little grubby, except it was missing one snap on one pocket. After washing it and then wearing it for a season I wandered into the EB store in downtown Seattle to see if I could buy a new snap to set in myself, and told them how I got the coat. The woman behind the desk said, “Let me see that coat,” and when I took it off she asked me to empty the pockets, which I did. She took it and pointed me to the rack of new ones, and said, “Go pick one out.” I thought she meant to compare the snaps, and then she said, “Put your things in the pockets,” and I realized she was giving it to me. I said, “No, I got mine at a garage sale, this wouldn’t be right, I just wanted a snap!” and she said, “It has our name on it and we want you to be happy.”
2) My (new) husband loved an LLBean winter jacket of my father’s, so I got him one for his birthday. He’s tall, and every time he wore it for a year he would extend his arms and say, “Gee, do you think these sleeves are too short?” (Yeah, they were, a little bit.) When I told him I’d get him another one if he wanted it, he always said, “No, I guess they’re ok.” But after a year, I got tired of this exchange and said, the heck with it, and called LLBean up to order a new one. They said, “Send the old one back and we’ll exchange it.” I said, “No, it’s a year old, it’s dirty, there’s nothing wrong with it, I just want to buy a new one for him.” And they said something like, “It has our name on it and we want you to be happy.” So he got a new coat (with longer sleeves, and in the color he wanted and they no longer stocked but they had a few in the back!!) and LLBean got another customer for life.

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Pamela May 30, 2014 at 8:13 am

Costco is known for their “exceptional products, great value and customer service”. Christmas Eve 2013, I stopped by on my way home to purchase a few electronic stocking stuffers and when I couldn’t find the item myself, an associate directed me to a manager. She apologized and explained they had run out of stock. Even though they were closing soon, she called another location which had plenty on hand. I declined because they would be waiting on me to arrive and it would easily take twenty minutes. Needless to say, she insisted and I did arrive at the other location after closing, knocked on the door, they escorted me in. The items were waiting for me, I paid and was quickly on my way! Now, that’s Customer Service, above and beyond!

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Vickie S. Bunch May 30, 2014 at 8:40 am

Good day Art. Thank you for all the wonderful books, articles and e-mails that teach so many. You are a tremendous inspiration to all of us in the sales world.

I like to find ways to get our services to the people who need them the most. So I go to the Chamber of Commerce pages in the area that I am working. Most are great sources of New Members in their area. For the most part they are new start up businesses. I send a handwritten note welcoming to the community and wishing them success. Of course, I include “no” sales pitch. The next week I call to see if we can offer our services. Even if they are not interested at the time I call, I know that I have started a relationship with a new company owner. I love this job and the people I have met in my position.

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Taylor Griswold May 30, 2014 at 8:41 am

Hi Art!
Thanks for all of the excellent information on your site. Here is a quick example of the “little things” going a long way.

A new barbershop opened in my area last year, so I stopped in to give it a try. The owner Robert was very kind and pleasant, but here’s what really made him stand out: When he found out I was a local small business owner, he asked me for a big stack of business cards and said he would tell his other customers about my entertainment company.

So of course, I came back the next month. And sure enough, when another customer came in they received a quick elevator pitch from…not me…but Robert the barber as he handed them my card. The way he showed that he really cared about MY business success earned him a repeat customer. And I’ve caught myself referring him to numerous friends now out of gratitude. Way to pay it forward Robert!

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Reggie Osborn May 30, 2014 at 9:04 am

Hello Art, thank you for all you do, I have learned so much from you and your company! For my “Little Things” example, I needed service on my car. Not knowing which local company to trust, I called a couple mechanics. One of them stood out, head and shoulders above the rest. Not only where they extremely curtious and knowledgable on the phone, but they also drove a loaner car out to my business, to not only pick up my car to work on it, but to also deliver the loaner car to me so I wouldn’t be without a car. They followed up with me the next day to outline what fixes need to be done, along with the pricing. A couple days later, not only did they deliver my car back to me when I was working (so I wouldn’t have to take any time off or rush during my lunch hour), but they had washed and cleaned my car.

This company has without a doubt earned my business and I have referred others to them with their outstanding customer service. They have truly mastered the “Little Things”. Again, thank you for your work and I hope you make it a great day!

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Capiz Greene May 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

Hi Art,

When I was a fledgling business with no positive cash flow, I took my car in for a tire check up before leaving on a trip. This was after a major wind/hail storm that required many roof repairs. What the manager found was a roofing nail that had entered through the tire and poked back through the sidewall. And it was still there. There was no repairing this tire. The new tire cost was $250 – which I did not have and told the manager so.

He thought for a moment, did some checking and then said to me: “I am NOT letting you get on the road on a damaged tire. You need to be safe. I’m going to repair the tire, and when you get back from your trip, we’ll figure out the payments.” I went on my way astounded at the trust and care that this manager had demonstrated. When I returned, I found that he had discovered a warranty on the tire, so I didn’t have to pay anything, and they were reimbursed from the warranty company.

It’s been said that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. I am a raving fan and tell this story to all my audiences. Love your customers and it will come back to you a thousand fold!

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steve ellis May 30, 2014 at 10:36 am

My story: a prospect had told me that he’d seen a bunch of salespeople that week, and nobody impressed him. I told him that my purpose was to determine what his pain/problems were, how important was it for him to solve them, and how quickly he wanted to solve them. Also, what would happen if he didn’t take action to solve them. He reacted quite positively, and told me that I was the only person to approach him this way, and he looked at it as my adding meaningful VALUE to the equation. He honored me by giving me his business.

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