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Are you being served?

I recently put my car in for a service and
almost choked when I caught sight of the bill, almost $200 more
than I thought it was going to be. Rather than query the price with
my mechanic then and there, I continued to make small talk with
him, paid my bill and left with a smile on my face.

It wasn’t until later, after
reliving the experience, I thought about how much I paid and the
smile wavered. I had to hand it to my mechanic: his chitchat and
advice kept me distracted, entertained even, while I handed a large
chunk of my salary across the table.

But it was more than that. Even knowing
this cost wasn’t really in the budget and was more than I
thought I’d get charged, I know when it comes to the next
service or car-related problem, I’ll definitely be back.
We’ve formed such a good customer–supplier
relationship, I want to give him my business.

It’s something we’ve been
talking about in the office, too. From dentist appointments and
dates with accountants to fruit shop and cafe visits, I discovered
most of us gave our business to suppliers despite knowing we could
get the basic product or service elsewhere, without the price tag.
But the thing that keeps us from changing suppliers is we’re
all after more than a ‘basic’ level of
service—many of us are happy to pay for the relationships,
and that little bit extra that keeps us returning.

And the ‘service beats price’
experiences are simple to implement into your own business.
It’s not rocket science: to simply treat your clients or
customers with respect and politeness goes far, but taking it to
another level, that extra step, goes even further.

Some of the best examples of customer
service I’ve seen or heard about include the massage
therapist who donates his time to talk to physiotherapists and
doctors with injured clients to better understand how he can help
them; or the dry cleaner who leaves a fragrance sachet in the
bundle of freshly-cleaned clothes; or the café that throws
in day-old banana bread every other day to its regular customers.
Even companies hand-delivering important documents or deliveries to
ensure their clients get them on time make a difference. And the
kind of service I get with my mechanic, from free fuel products to
car cleaning, makes it so much easier to go to back in future, and
tell other people about them.

What do your clients have to say about
you—can you be proud of what they’re saying?

And as all kinds of public perception can
be everything in business, we’ve offered you some tips on how
to improve yours, from a marketing and PR perspective. We also talk
to the man behind Roses Only about how he turned a simple business
idea into the multi-million dollar brand on everyone’s lips,
and the tips and traps to get your own product into the market.

What do you think?

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