Over the weekend, I made a trip to the mall with my wife to the Cole Haan store. Last year I bought my wife a purse from Cole Haan for over $500. and after only having used the purse about 10 times in a year, the strap is beginning to fall apart. I figured since I spent over $500 on this purse, which has not been abused, I should see if Cole Haan will do something about it. The sales associate was extremely curtious and understanding. Without hesitation, she said it is obvious there is a flaw in the strap, thus we will gladly repair it for you and apologized for the inconvenience. I was quite impressed with the associates handling of this situation. She did not even look up my previous purchase history, which is several thousand dollars, nor did I have to tell her that I was a frequent shopper having spent several dollars over the years.
This is an excellent example of good customer service and a company that empowers its associates to make the right decision for the company and the customer alike. This is an act that will not go on unnoticed by me. In the future, I will certainly not hesitate to continue to shop at Cole Haan.
In these difficult economic times, it is vitally important that other companies take note of this type of behavior. It is very expensive to acquire customers and it take a lot of work to move customers from being uncommitted to being loyal. Customer loyalty is not about having the best price, in most instances. Those customers who shop just on price are typically not your most loyal customers. These customers, are merely transactors who will not hesitate to defect for a competitor who offers a better price.
There are a number of examples of companies who do a good job of differentiating themsevles against their competition. Their differentiation in on service, those little extras, or better trained associates, coupled with a strong in stock position if it is retail. or personal recognition of customer behavior orchestrated through an effective one to one marketing campaign based upon your purchase behavior and preferences.
Many companies are focused today on cutting costs to make it through the other side of these tough economic times. I submit to you, it is the companies who keep their customers first that will service and continue to win the minds, hearts and wallets of their cherished best customers, as well as dong the best job at converting uncommitted customers to best customers.
I have had the good fortune of working with, and being a customer of many companies who do an outstanding job of putting the customer first. It is a part of their corporate culture, from the CEO down to the sales associates, or waiters, or flight attendants. Those companies who do a good job know who they are, but they can all do better. I am not going to make this post about who else is doing a good job. If anyone is interested in my list of who is doing it right, feel free to email me and I will respond to you directly. Additonally, I am not going to out the companies who are not doing a good job, or those who have gone from good to great to gone or soon to be gone, I think they know who they are as well.
If you find a company who does a good job like Cole Haan has, return the favor and tell your friends and continue to open your wallet in their stores rather than going to a competitor. If you show loyalty to a company and they do not show it back, you are certainly free to flee. If you are trapped because there is not another company that provides the goods or services you need, let them know. Most companies, the good ones anyway, want to here from their customers; the good, the bad and the ugly.
You do not have to spend a lot of money on a product or service to expect good service in return. It can be as simple and inexpensive as a newspaper on a street corner or a coffee at your favorite coffee shop. The point is, these are competitive times and companies need to work hard to provide customers with service that wins the minds and hearts of their customers, which will translate into maximizing the customers share of wallet. When companies we engage with make an effort to win our minds and hearts, we should return the favor in kind by being loyal to them. There is a great old Midas commercial that says “pay me now or pay me later”. This is a two way street. If companies treat us poorly it will cost them lost customers and revenue; conversely if they treat us well and provide the products and services we seek, we will reward them with our business. If we leave a company that has treated us well to save a few dollars, what happens when that company goes out of business or if you have to return a product and they are not accommodating. The few dollars you saved are lost in spades. Companies and customers alike, think about the end to end life cycle of the value of committing to each other.
Thanks Cole Haan for going that extra mile for me, I will be back soon and hopefully so will my friends.