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Under-promise and Over-deliver – Good Customer Service is Tougher Than it Sounds

Had a good customer service experience that I thought tied into my theme of customer service as marketing device. I’ve written several articles on the value of good customer service as a marketing tool, so when I run across an instance in real life that proves the theory, I like to recognize their efforts.

I drive a gas guzzling, over-huge SUV – since I don’t commute regularly, my annual mileage is about 8,000 a year, about 1/3 of the national average. Unfortunately it has the same maintenance needs as if I drove it 20k a year – except for the frequency of things like tires, brakes, and other wearable parts, that still wear out on schedule just my elongated version.

In 2006, on vehicles that size, now on virtually all of them, the manufacturer installed special valve stems that have the ability to measure the tire pressure on each tire, and a sender to tell you what the pressure is on a continual basis. As you might expect, these little marvels of modern technology are a bit costly, especially compared to the $.49 cent stems they replace. At $125 a whack and you need 5 of them with a full-size spare, that adds a bit to the bottom line when you buy it, and a lot to your tire bill when you replace them. They are also rather fragile, and if you put anything on them to cover them up, it must be made of plastic – metal covers apparently react with the metal in the stem and corrode them away in rapid fashion, causing them to leak and need replacement. I found this out the hard way and had to replace all four at a cost of nearly $600, something I’ll not repeat for quite a while with any luck.

Thanks to these sensors, I noticed that one of the tires was losing air consistently, so since I just had the stems replaced, I took it back to where the work was done, thinking one of them might have been defective. I walk in the door to a Mr. Tire location near my house, tell them my saga, and they promise to take a look at it, but that there were a couple of people ahead of me – indeed for mid-week in late August, the waiting room was remarkably full, and some folks looked like they’d dug in for the long haul.

I waited only 45 minutes before I saw the car come around the front and a ticket with my keys and lug lock land on the front desk. I didn’t even finish watching the day’s episode of “The View” before they were writing me up – they had rebuilt the pesky little sensor valve, replacing a seal and the core, and remounting the valve, replaced the tire and buttoned it all up. They had under promised the waiting time by being vague, and had over-delivered by not just replacing the expensive part but by saving me lots of money by rebuilding the existing one.

What do my tires have to do with marketing? I’m now an evangelist, an auxiliary marketer for Mr. Tire – I’ll recommend them to friends, I’ll tell people about my experience (blog about it), use it as a landmark when giving directions, etc. Think what would happen to your business if all of your customers behaved this way about your product or service. The growth rate would be incalculable, your popularity unchallenged, your brand ubiquitous, your pockets forever full.

If you’re a marketer, get out from behind your desk right now, take a stroll down to the customer service department and say a hearty “Thank You” to the folks that REALLY provide your reputation for you to customers. They are the real heroes, who do the job every day and don’t get to have the creative fun that you do. They deserve a tip of your cap!

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About David Poulos

Speaker, Consultant and Author David Poulos is known as the Marketing Doctor because of his proven ability to accurately diagnose and prescribe the most effective solutions for successful business growth with absolute surgical precision.

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