I had an interesting and slightly odd experience a couple of weeks back which made me open by eyes a little (literally) – and it involves customer service.
When given the choice, I normally will try to push my money to local businesses in the town I live in, which is Maynard, MA. That said, we are lucky to have an optical shop right here in town which can do standard exams and provide you with frames or contacts. I never really need to go anywhere else other than Look Optical.
Here’s what I like about it. First, I can walk there. As someone who has been in the retail business, convenience of location is huge with a capital H – we saw it in every customer survey we did. Look Optical also has a good selection of frames and they actually make their own frames, too. Also good. Convenience and selection – two major hot points.
But here’s where the hammer nails it in – service. The owner is a guy named Alex and he’s one of those people who has that talent where he can remember people’s names and he cheerfully says “Hey Jeff!” every time I walk in and he’ll remember I like music and ask what I’m listening to these days.
What’s more, he has the ability to remember what frames I used to wear and on more than one occasion, he remembers what frames I have previously tried on and not purchased. There is the magic. I will likely never shop anywhere else for optical needs.
I went in a few weeks back to order some new contact lenses and get a quick exam. I’m in the room and we finish up and Alex turns off the bright-as-the-sun light that was shining in my eyes and I can see he turns serious and then he asks me “what do you think is the most dangerous thing about contact lenses?”
Of course, I have no idea and I say so.
The answer: you can lose your eye. WHAT? He then proceeds to tell me that he had a patient who developed some kind of bacteria issue and ended up in the city in surgery – and lost an eye.
I’d never seen him so serious and it was clear that he took it hard. So we talked about ways to minimize the risks, including washing your hands when you put them in and take ’em out (which I do every time, all the time, anyway) and also not swimming or showering in them, because water carries bacteria.
Now this I hadn’t heard before. Almost every Sunday, I shower with my contacts in after my Sunday night hockey league games. And I must confess I swim in my contacts because a) I’m blind as a bat and don’t like blurry vision in the water, but more importantly, b) I’m usually swimming with my children nearby and I’m damn well going to make sure I have clear sight of them.
Of course, Alex understood the latter and discouraged the former, but wanted to let me know there is some risk in showering and swimming with contacts and he wanted me to know about it. I’m glad I don’t live in Flint.
Bottom line – customer service is king. I will take my contacts out when I shower from now on.
This applies to online marketing and customer service. The better you know your customers and the better you cater to their wants and needs, the better off your business will be. This is basic marketing 101 type stuff, but I continue to see it muffed by companies big and small.
Sure, there’s software – GOOD software – that can automate this for you in some facets and it can be quite effective. But responding in REAL-TIME in human ways AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is where people start seeing you like I see Alex.
For example, my goals in Social Media at my last job were to try and respond to any and all mentions of our brand within 1-5 minutes. That was a lofty goal because I always had a lot of other stuff going on, but I’m proud to say that more often than not, I did it.
You wouldn’t believe how happy it made people. Does it show up in Google Analytics? Nope. Does it show up as a trackable ROI event? Nope. But I can promise you it shows up in people’s hearts and minds and that means one word, which maybe trumps them all: Devotion. I know this was effective because I saw repeat orders from certain people after I engaged with them.
So don’t swim or shower in your contacts, get to know your customers and be obsessed about making them smile. Open your eyes. Be human.