Creating Customer Loyalty

customer service

Last week my husband and I went on our annual motorcycle trip with our friends, Peggy and Jerry.  As any motorcycle enthusiast can tell you,  there is nothing better than hopping on your bike and feeling the rumble of the engine as the throttle is opened up… open roads awaiting you… great scenery to photograph…  and new people to meet.

Our trip into the northern section of central Wisconsin was uneventful.  We rode hard for about seven hours to get to our destination… a little motel called the Traveler’s Inn in Eagle River, Wisconsin.  If you have never travelled in “Packer” (Green Bay Packer fan) country,  I would highly recommend a trip.  The beauty of thick woods, clean lakes and sparkling rivers surrounded us as we rode mile after mile.

At the beginning of our trip,  my husband and our friend Jerry, decided that they should get the oil changed in both of the bikes since we were planning on putting on a few miles during the week.  We were all set and ready to head over to the local Harley-Davidson dealership in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin when all of a sudden,  Jerry lost power (or I should say his bike did…).  Here we are on the main road through town and the bike literally dies on the road.  The throttle cable decided that it wanted to break away and it clearly was not something that could be done without the technical skills and equipment of a mechanic…

Thankfully we were only a few miles away from Northwoods Harley-Davidson so my husband dropped me off to stay with our friends and their bike as he drove off to get some help.  Before we knew it,  my husband was back followed shortly by a truck and a trailer driven by the manager of the service department.  He had that bike loaded and back to his shop in no time and was figuring out how he was going to get a throttle cable at the last-minute so he could get us back on the road.

As Jerry’s bike was getting serviced,  the four of us hung around the H-D shop (that would be lingo for Harley-Davidson if you didn’t know).  We had the Sales Manager, shop employees, retail employees, the Service Manager and other customers hang out with us,  talking about all of our various adventures,  sharing about our families and giving us great information on areas we should check out on our vacation.  They made us all feel like we belonged… we were not strangers stranded on the road…

Relationships were built through stories, laughter and incredible customer service.  The Sales Manager even allowed me to sit on the new H-D trike on the showroom floor so I could get a sense of “fit” for me (and I must say,  I felt like I looked really good in the saddle of that beauty… even though she wasn’t metallic purple)!

The throttle cable was replaced by closing time and we were ready to be on our way.  This awesome group of people got our friends back on their bike so that we could enjoy our vacation with no worries.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this is the same Harley-Davidson shop where the employees met us all at the door with dry towels when the rain was pouring down on us a few years ago.  How many businesses have you entered where they greet you with a dry towel during a rain storm?  Now THAT is great customer service!

I know that when I am ready to buy my three-wheeled trike in a few years,  I am going to be buying it from Northwoods Harley-Davidson.  I know they will take care of me.  I know they will make sure that I am ready to ride that trike safely.  It doesn’t matter that I will have to ride 7 or 8 hours to get there… it is worth the time in my book!

Funny thing when you start preparing to write a blog… it always seems like more examples of the subject matter always show up! As I was preparing to write my blog post last night,  I had stopped into The Pearl Salon in Shakopee, Minnesota.  The owner of the salon brought over a card to me and said “you have to read this”.  The card was from a customer of hers who took the time to write (a actual “old school” handwritten note  mind you) about her gratitude and love of being a customer at the salon.  She shared how she had been to many “high-end” salons throughout the United States and Europe and none of those salons (including Milan) could compare to the service and care that she receives at this little shop in Shakopee.  She wrote that it is worth driving out of her way to come to this salon and as long as she lives in Minnesota,  she will always be a customer.  It wasn’t just the technical skills of her stylist (the owner) but it was the friendly, inviting and homey atmosphere of the shop.  The greatest thing about this note is that it let the salon owner know that the customer experience Vision she has created over the past several months has become a reality!

So how do you create customer loyalty in your business?

  1. Take time to BE with your customer.  Get to know them  and make their experience a personal one.
  2. Take care of their problems.  If something needs to be fixed, find solutions and fix it as quickly as possible.
  3. If you are a manager or business owner,  don’t step too far away from the customer.  Role model what you want your customer service environment to look like.  Create the vision and then work it!
  4. Treat your customers like family.  Families tend to be very supportive and loyal to one another.  They know that sometimes things may not go as planned but they stick around for the long run.

What is your number one piece of customer service advice you would give others?

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