Dealer Outlook

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Have you smooched your customer lately?

No, I don’t mean literally. But three experiences in the last few days have made me, as a customer, 1) feel good, 2) feel recognized and 3) makes me want to be a customer in the future. Here they are.

1. If you’re not familiar with the website “CDBaby,” it’s an online music store through which musicians can sell their music and I, as consumer, can buy and download their tunes. I ordered a CD titled “The Hit Men Live” right after seeing the live show that features music of the 1960s and 1970s. (Sidebar: If you’re over 40 you’d love this show; under 40s won’t know the songs!)

The CD arrived in the mail and included an order receipt. It’s what was written on the receipt that inspired this blog: “Thanks for your order from CB Baby! We want everything to go PERFECTLY. If your order was late, or wrong, or damaged in any way  or you’re having a bad day and want to unload on someone  feel free to contact us. We hope to hear from you again soon — there is ALWAYS great new music here! Just type cdbaby.com into your web browser.”

2. Took my Yamaha motor scooter to Barney’s Motorcycle and Marine in St. Petersburg last week. She’d just quit running. The service was excellent  scooter runs like new again. Three days after I picked it up, my phone rang: 1) first, thanking me for bringing my scooter to Barnney’s and 2) asking if I’d answer several questions and rate a variety of things, from my satisfaction with the service personnel to pricing and timing.

I recognize that this kind of post-sale or service follow-up is common for auto dealerships, and I know some marine dealers also consistently do this now. Barney’s follow up made me feel like they 1) valued my business, 2) wanted to be sure I was satisfied and 3) I believe would have strived to make me happy if I had not been. Barney’s will get my future business.

3. Just purchased some music equipment from Guitar Center in Clearwater, Fla. Two days after the purchase, I received an email from assistant manager Khalid Keene saying: “Hello Norman, this is Khalid at Guitar Center.  I would like to thank you for your recent purchase. I hope you are enjoying your new gear, and let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. We are also offering 18-month financing on any item in the store with Guitar Center Credit Card purchases.”

My purchase wasn’t anything big. So the acknowledgement of it, including his name and the invitation to contact him, made me feel important. I’ve always contended that MMFI  Make Me Feel Important  is what every salesman should understand a prospect or customer wants. I think we’re all cut that way. But note one more thing: In this case, Khalid also cleverly used the thank-you note to “plug” possible additional business by closing with the extra line about 18-month free financing. There’s at least one other big music store in this area, but the written thank-you note pretty much assures Guitar Center of more business from me.

No question this kind of follow-up takes time, timing and effort. It is worth it. In fact, in today’s climate, it’s mandatory. In each of these examples  the clever writing (CD Baby), the phone call (Barney’s) and the email (Guitar Center)  the merchants have secured a relationship with me as a customer and put them in the driver’s seat for my future business.

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