Keeping Promises, Quality Products, and Customer Loyalty

  • March 18th, 2013
  • Ty Kiisel

Keeping Promises, Quality Products, and Customer LoyaltyI’ve become pretty cynical of marketing claims over the years. Most marketers like to pump up their claims to the level of hyperbole and seldom live up the expectations. However, I occasionally come across something that not only does exactly what it advertises to do, it over delivers—offering a great lesson in how to do it and build an intensely loyal brand following. I’ve recently had such an experience with a very unlikely motorcycle parts supplier. Let me share what made this experience so special and why I think it’s such a great lesson in how to do it right.

Many of you know that I spend every free moment I can in the saddle of my motorcycle. Last summer, when getting ready for a road trip down the Oregon coast, I added a beautiful leather tour pack to my Harley Road King. It proved to be a great addition for the tour, but it also makes my commute much easier too. Of course it also helps that I like the look of the dressed-out touring bike and the leather tour pack looks great along with my hard leather saddle bags.

My only complaint was it made passenger seating kind of snug. I went to the dealer looking for some kind of relocation kit to no avail. When they couldn’t make any recommendations, I went online searching for a product that would fit my needs, but none of the usual players had what I was looking for. I stumbled upon a blog that described the exact part I was looking for, but there was no website and only a phone number. I gave it a shot. I was greeted on the other end of the phone by a very friendly voice who seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. Although his relocation bracket had never been used for my particular application, he thought it would work and offered to send it to me. Here are the lessons I learned from this experience:

  1. He spent the time to listen to my problem: This seems so simple, yet how many sales situations consist of a strong-arm sales pitch. The first key to a great customer service/sales interaction is listening. After he listened to what I was looking for, he asked a couple of questions and suggested that his part might do the trick. He said he would send it to me and to call him back if I had any problems.
  2. The product completely exceeded my expectations: To say that his bracket was well made would be an understatement. Although this part would be hidden underneath my tour pack (in-between the rack on the bike and the leather box), it was a piece of art. This was obviously someone who took great pride in his workmanship—I wish every part on my motorcycle was as well made. Installation was a snap, he definitely used the product to make sure it worked properly. In fact, how many products are you aware of that work so well your entire marketing scheme is based upon word of mouth? He has no website, he completely relies on good will to promote his product (by the way, this isn’t something I would generally recommend, but imagine the power of this type of word-of-mouth advertising in addition to a well-executed marketing program).
  3. He went the extra mile: I’m not suggesting this is how to do business, but at the conclusion of our conversation over the phone he said, “I’m heading over to the post office right now, I’ll drop a bracket in the mail for you.” Because he didn’t take credit cards, he was going to ship the part to me before I had a chance to pay him, to which he said, “You’re going to pay me, right?” I wouldn’t be surprised if I received the part before he received my check. What’s more, although I sent him what he asked for, he thought I had overpaid by $10 and sent that back to me a week or so later. Needless to say, this was a first class experience all the way around and he has made an incredibly loyal customer.

Granted, this fabricator is likely a one-man shop and maybe even a hobby business, but there are gems within the three practices described above. What’s more, I don’t think it matters what the nature of your product or service, building loyal customers requires that you:

  1. Spend more time listening than pitching
  2. Make the best product or offer the best service you possible can
  3. Go the extra mile

When is the last time one of your customers had an experience like this?

About the Author

  • Ty Kiisel

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business financing and trends accessible in common sense language devoid of the jargon.

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