There is an often told story about Nordstrom that goes like this. One day a customer came in with an automobile tire, said it was the wrong size and he wanted a refund. The sales person thought it over and then refunded the man his money for the tire. What made this such a stand out story was that Nordstrom didn’t sell tires.
On the face, it might seem crazy to give a customer a refund on something that obviously wasn’t bought in the store, however what would have been the cost to lose that customer over the long haul? When you work inside a business, organization or even a department, it can be easy to lose sight of the level of service you provide and type of impression you leave on your customers.
Research shows that customers evaluate based on a total value. Surprisingly, price only contributes around 30% to their perception of total value. The product contributes less than 10% and other factors not related to the product or the price make up fully 60% of the customer’s perception of value.
It is far more costly to secure a new customer than to retain an existing one, however that doesn’t mean it’s free. To retain customers you need to invest in retaining customers.
Here are three simple actions you could take today, that would go a long way in demonstrating the value of your customers:
Go outside your business or department, turn around and walk back in as if you were your customer. If you are selling to children, walk in on your knees. If people walk into your business with things in their hands, put things in your hands. Literally be one of your customers. When you walk in, ask yourself a couple of questions:
What is my impression of the organization, based on what I am seeing?
Where are my eyes drawn to immediately upon walking in and is it pleasing to see this?
How am I welcomed? Am I drawn in and engaged or am I left out in the cold?
Ask at least three to five customers, what has them come back to you and what would make their experience better. Please understand, you do not need to implement every idea a customer gives you, however by collecting a range of ideas, you might find a nugget in which you could act on.
Say thank you. Ensure that you are telling your customers how much you appreciate them. This could be through a special offer, an appreciation event, a note in the mail or in you personally taking the time to call them or to talk to them.
The bottom line is that without your customers you are nowhere. Make an investment to ensure you are providing your customer with the products and service they need and there will be no need to look elsewhere. The sales person at Nordstrom understood, that the value of a customer over the long term, certainly outweighs the cost of a tire today and made the choice to make the investment.