#1 Posted: 19 Oct 2012 11:57
Sometimes a simple object can be transformed into much more. When customers purchase items from The Vermont Country Store, they carry them home in brown paper bag — but there is something special about this particular bag.
I received one as a gift from my friend Bates Childress, who works at the College of St. Joseph in Vermont. Some of the school's students work as interns for The Vermont Country Store, which bills itself as an old-time general store. It has two stores in Vermont as well as catalog and online sales.
But, back to the brown paper bag ... it contains a valuable business lesson for the students and an impressive guarantee for customers. Printed on each bag is "The Vermont Country Store Customer Bill of Rights." The concept of a customer bill of rights is not a new idea, but this one is different.
The first time I encountered a similar statement was the Customer Service Bill of Rights of the city of Seattle. It promised to deliver excellent service to its customers, or citizens. Like most similar documents, the focus was on the responsibilities of the organization and what it would do for its customers, the kind of service it would provide. The Vermont Country Store approaches its bill of rights from a slightly different angle — the obligation of the customer to expect only the best treatment and service and the highest quality products.
It seems like a subtle difference, but the twist on the concept is a powerful thing. It empowers the customers — they have the responsibility to expect and demand courteous service, and not accept anything less. If they do not receive the expected level of service and quality, they are encouraged to report any shortcomings.
And don't forget, this Bill of Rights is on the side of every bag the customer carries home. It is a constant reminder of the store's commitment.
Our Customer Bill of Rights
1. To expect polite, courteous service.
2. To be the top priority of the moment.
3. To expect all salespeople to know about their merchandise.
4. To expect quality merchandise, service and delivery, and to report any shortcomings.
5. To compliment superior quality service and merchandise when it is
6. To expect The Vermont Country Store to stand behind its merchandise.
7. To expect any adjustments in merchandise to be made in the most convenient manner.
8. To expect accurate and efficient record-keeping, despite computer or other problems.
9. 100% Guaranteed Satisfaction. Enjoy risk-free shopping! We will exchange any item or refund your money, without hassle or fuss, whether shopping by
catalog, online or in our stores.
As a lover of lists, I am impressed by the one above. All of these rights and obligations would work for any type of business.
Hopefully this simple, yet effective customer service tool can inspire you to create your own Customer Bill of Rights if you don't already have one. Start with this list and modify it in a way that will work for you. Get your employees involved and they will feel a sense of ownership of the customer guarantees and be on board for the most important aspect — delivering on your promises.
A Customer Bill of Rights contains words that you must live by.
And please, let me know about your list. What would you add in your quest to provide amazing service for your customers?