I subscribe to Jane Pollak’s blog and love reading the wisdom/insight she shares with her readers. Thanks to Vickie Ayres, I subscribed a couple of years ago. Over the years, I have shared several of her blog posts. This is one of her best in my opinion. It rings so true for customer service today. I wholeheartedly agree with Jane. Please read and share with other business owners. I especially love the turkey story.
**FYI, Jane has recently moved to NY, you’ll understand why I mentioned this as you read her article.
Not sure what to call the mother of my daughter’s mother-in-law (there is a Yiddish word, but that’d take too much explaining), but she (Vivian) recently recommended her hair stylist to me. I signed up for a 2pm cut with Olga today, arrived early (some things haven’t changed) and she was able to take me immediately. I had calculated an hour at the salon, however between getting there ahead of time and the brevity of the appointment, I’m now at the New York Public Library, and it’s just 2:45pm. I had time before catching the 4:15pm train to Westport and wanted to get a posting out today.
Woo-hoo! I’m feeling like a real New Yorker. I wanted to log onto a computer here and remembered that in the past, as an out-of-towner, there would be a 45-60 minute wait. Since I have now have one of those groovy, keyring library cards for NYC, I simply logged on to the reservation site and voila. I’m sitting here typing away.
Back to Olga…She did a nice job (photos coming soon-Doreen will be picking me up in Westport and never travels without a camera), but was somewhat stand-offish. You know the old adage, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Here I am, a business coach and first time customer approaching her company based on a referral. She was semi-engaging, but mostly seemed bored and a tad annoyed. Full disclosure-Vivian had negotiated her valued customer pricing (read that: unbelievably cheap) for me. I had to wonder if Olga had only grudgingly agreed to hold that price for me.
There is always a golden opportunity to engage with a potential client.
I’ll never forget Stew Leonard’s example that’s in all the business books. One customer came in after Thanksgiving and wanted a refund for the turkey she’d purchased. “It was dry,” she complained. Stew sells thousands of turkeys, and this woman was the only one who wanted a refund. He never for a second thought to question her cooking skills. I’m paraphrasing, but his perspective was he’d much rather refund $30 on the turkey than turn away a potential relationship that could equate to thousands and thousands of dollars over time, especially if she was treated as a valuable customer.
I wasn’t $50 sitting in that chair. Potentially, I’m a $10,000 customer for this woman, not to mention the referrals I’d make and the product purchases I’d rack up.
As I was seated under the hairdryer and Olga came to feel my head for moisture, she said, “Thank you for trusting me.” I appreciated that she recognized the risk each new customer takes when she enters your domain. That simple acknowledgment erased any negative feelings I’d experienced.
You may have only one chance to make a first impression, but within the time frame of your earliest relationship, there is room for error and adjustment. Even more important than getting off to a good start, there’s the adage that says, “It’s not the mistakes that you make, it’s how you clean them up that counts.”
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