Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to make our clients feel “more special” as we are going through several process changes with the intention of providing more value to our customers.
In search of ways to add that touch of magic, I did a lot of research and thinking – and it’s pretty interesting where inspirations come from: for me, it was a recent purchase experience I have with a not-so-local bike shop.
To add a bit of background story – my wife and I recently picked up bicycle riding as a weekend / after work hobby. Like a true analytical accountant, I approached this purchase (like I do most my other purchases) with hours of research, reading online reviews and consultation with “experts” in my social network.
I wanted to be sure that the bike I bought was the best bang for the buck and the establishment I bought it from was the best (whatever that means.) Several bike shop trips later, I wasn’t as excited as I was when I started shopping. Each bike shop seemed to offer a different selection of bikes, each of them responded to my “I-sort-of-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-it-but-don’t-really-know-what-I-am-looking-for” attitude differently.
Avoid using jargon
Truth is, I am no expert at bikes despite the hours of research I’ve done online. I understand what a derailleur is but cannot tell the difference between a $20 and a $200 product made by the same company. I know that I want a good bike for my use but wouldn’t recognize it if it’d hit me in the head – and no one was able to help convince me that the bike they were selling me was IT.
Then, as a detour from the usual congested LA freeway on our way to Vegas, I Googled, found and visited Fullerton Bike Shop (18 miles from where I live.) We had no intention of buying a bike from there (it was too far away,) I just wanted to kill some time while we waited for friends, check out a few bikes and be on our way. Moments after we went into the shop, Mike (who we later learned to be the owner of the bike shop) came up to us and asked if he could help us with anything. He listened to our story and what we were trying to do then led us to a few bikes that he thinks will be fitting for us.
There’s something about him that made us feel comfortable and welcomed in his shop. He explained the differences in each bike then left us alone to browse around. Eventually, I test rode a few bikes and was on our way – explaining to Mike that I had to think about it before making a decision – he smiled and told me that when I am ready, just give him a call and he’ll get the bikes ready.
focus on detail, and offer some discount
I left thinking that this was one of the nicest bike shops I’ve been to, I was pleasantly surprised. Few days, a couple more hours of research and several other bike shop visits later, I called Mike and told him I was ready to buy the bike. On the day that we went to pick it up, Mike greeted us with his usual welcoming manner. The bikes didn’t come with a kickstand originally but Mike hooked us up with one on each bike, gave us some discount on our purchases and helped us get our bikes into the back seat and trunk of our not-so-big car. It was 1 hour past their closing time, getting dark and Mike was kneeling on the floor tying down my trunk lid with old bike tubes and cushioning everything to make sure there will be no scratches.
Show your care
Then he sent us on our 18-mile trip back home. I left thinking the transaction was complete and that I am quite pleased with my decision of going with a good shop. We got home and while my wife was getting dinner ready, I was getting the bikes out of the car and putting the wheels back on, then my phone rang.
Mike’s voice came from the other end wanting to know if we had made it home okay and that the bikes were transported safely. I told him yes, but that I am having issues getting the breaks on my bike working right. Since I didn’t know what I was doing wrong nor did I know the names of each bike parts Mike was talking about, I wanted to tell him that I’d just try to figure it out on my own, and if I couldn’t, I will call the bike shop tomorrow morning to ask for help. He had other ideas.
After-sales service matters
Mike went into his garage, pulled his bike out and proceeded to demonstrate all the possible things that could have caused my problem, taking pictures of each part (like this. not like this.) and sending it to me to compare.3 possible problem areas and 6 pictures later, I found my problem and was able to fix it. That phone call made all the difference in the world.
Sell an experience instead of service/product
Mike didn’t just sell me two bikes, he sold me an experience – an experience that is likely to translate into loyalty to his shop for me, my wife and whoever I can convince along the way. Pretty impressive considering that Mike’s business at first glance was selling a product. A product that I can theoretically get from any reseller from anywhere in the world who is willing to offer me the lowest price.
How DeepSky does differently from other accounting firms
Now, it got me thinking if he can do that with a product business, shouldn’t we (CPAs and other professionals) be able to do the same with our service? After all, we are in the business of selling services.
We are each unique in our very own way and you cannot go down to the next firm and buy the same service, because it wouldn’t have been done by me. True, the financial statements we provide our clients may look similar, and every firm out there claim to be “accurate and timely,” but shouldn’t there be something more to it other than being cheaper than the next guy down the street?
I think the answer lies in being mindful of the small things that create big experiences. Like that phone call. It probably costs the least in dollars (among all the benefits Mike offered us,) but it definitely made the biggest impact on me – the customer. Mind the details, mind the small things, it should take you further in your business.