Going the Extra Mile for Your Customers

Do a little bit more for your customers and they will reward you with their loyalty.

Women in rental car

It’s not often that I rent a car when I travel because I don’t really like driving when I’m not familiar with this area, unless I have a navigator sitting in the passenger seat next to me telling me where to go.

But, on a recent personal trip to Atlanta, I rented a car because I lived in Atlanta for more than 15 years and I pretty much know my way around. I was in Atlanta to play for the weekend and needed to get to my friend’s house which is about 27 miles from the airport, and renting a car is easier than inconveniencing anybody else.

I am a member of rental car clubs so I never have to wait at the counter, but can simply go to the lot and my rental car is there waiting. They have my credit card on file so all I have to do is check out at the gate and I’m on my way. I really love things that save me time and make things more convenient for me.

As it happened, I arrived in Atlanta just 2 days after they had moved all the rental car agencies to a central location requiring me to get on a moving tram to the rental car place instead of going and getting on the bus and going to get my car. No big deal.

I arrived and easily found my car – it’s a brand new Toyota Prius. That’s when the adventure began. See, I drive a rather old pick-up truck (I live within a few miles of the beach and work from home, what do I need a new vehicle for… besides, Gail has a newer vehicle, and I can drive that).

First, I can’t figure out how to get the trunk looking thingy open, so being the patient person I am, I just tossed my suitcase in the back seat instead. No big deal, right?

Right, so after walking around the car to make sure there wasn’t any damage or anything on the car, I slide into the driver’s seat to start my journey to my friend’s house. The “keys” are sitting in the cup holder in the console between the front bucket seats. As I reach down to pick them up I see that there is no metal key sticking out of the end of the key like you usually see, but I’m not worried or concerned because I have a friend who drives a Volkswagen and with her key you have to flip the metal part out – I can do this!

Oops, there’s nothing to flip out. Now what do I do? No idea, but I stay cool… until I look up and see that there’s no place to put a key anyway. No ignition! Nope, just something that resembled a button with a green light.

Ok, push the button, right? Well, not so fast. Pushing the button doesn’t do anything but make a lot of lights on a very strange-looking dashboard show up – they’re blinking and turning colors and I expect that the car might explode at any moment. Also, there is a very strange-looking diagram of the car on there too. This seems very strange to me. I later discovered I have been given a hybrid to drive. (Growing up on the farm a hybrid was what happened when you planted 2 types of corn seed together in the field, so I’m not sure what corn is doing in the car, but I’m going with it).

The dash is telling me I have to push in the brake. No worries, I can do that – after all, I drive a stick shift everyday (well, at least I do when I do, on a rare occasion, leave the house). I know about the emergency brake, so I release it and try again. Now, I’m puzzled because I get the same response.

No problem. I’m a problem solver by nature, so I’ll look in the glove box for the owner’s manual and see what to do. I had already looked for directions on the seat or hanging from the rear view mirror, but there weren’t any.

The glove box is empty, which I should have known since my dad sold cars for 25 years and I remember him telling me back then that people would steal the manuals if they left them in the car because they become collector’s items over time. So, now what I ask myself.

I resolve myself to the fact that I’m going to have to ask someone for help (something I’m getting better at, but I’m not as good at as I should). So, I look around to see who I can ask for help or get to come show me how to start this car so I can get on my way. There is not a single solitary soul for as far as I can see – not in this entire place filled with rental cars. I really don’t want to have to go back inside to see about some help. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure I can figure out how to lock this hybrid car-like thing if I do get out to get some help and I’m sure not going to walk off with my suitcase in the back seat.

Oh, but as luck would have it, as I scan the car again to see if I missed some instructions laying somewhere and don’t find anything, I look up, partly in disgust and partly in a bit of frustration, and there is a man coming across the parking lot, headed to an SUV (that I know how to start and drive), pulling a suitcase. So, I get out of the car thingy and ask the man if he can help me. We have a laugh as he tells me he had the same frustrating experience a few months ago when he rented a car and was given a similar hybrid model.

He shows me the secrets, I thank him and he goes on his way.

The car is now started, but it doesn’t sound like it’s running (which I find very strange and a little disturbing), so now all I have is drive and I’ll be on my way. Sounds easy, but as I look down I realize the gear shift thingy looks and feels different from anything I’ve ever seen before. They couldn’t leave this part alone? I wonder to myself.

The gear shift doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before and it seems to be placed in a neutral position because it will move in all directions. The knob has a D, B, P and N on it (or something like that). And, the strangest thing is that when I push it up to the D (which I assume, and hope means Drive), it doesn’t engage and stay there, but pops back down to the neutral-like position.

At this point, I’m a little concerned but decide to take my foot off the brake, which by the way, was the key to starting the car – you have to have your foot on the brake to do anything with this little hybrid Prius (the woman at the exit stand on the lot was very clear about that bit of information and it would have helped to have known that when I got to the car, instead of as I was leaving the lot and already had the struggle of getting the car started). The car is now moving forward, which at this point I think is a good thing, as I’m finally moving and headed toward my friend’s house, later than I expected.

For the sake of time and space, I won’t get into the part of the story about getting out of the new rental car area. I got a little turned around and lost in a not so great neighborhood but quickly got that corrected.

When I returned the car and they asked how everything was I mentioned to the gal my trouble getting the car started and all that. She smiled at me and told me she hears that a lot and had even taken the initiative to suggest to management that they put a direction sheet in the car but that to this point they hadn’t. I thank her and am on my way to the plane to return home.

It was amazing to me that this simple issue, which I am obviously not the only one who was confused but could have been taken care of with a simple hang tag on the rear view mirror, or a sheet of paper on the car seat, with like 3 or 4 steps, and really simple directions, but the company had done nothing to enhance their customers experience by taking this simple action.

About that time, it occurred to me that this happens a lot, in every business, and that most of us are probably doing similar things to our clients and prospects every day.

Think about it. You invest in a course and it arrives at the door with no welcome sheet, no quick start guide, and no directions on what to do first, second or third it is just a big box full of useless items or stuff.

And, worse yet, many times we never communicate specifically about that purchase with our clients again. We don’t check on their status, we don’t hold any special teleseminars or webinars to get them started right, we don’t do anything – we just send the box and leave them to their own devices.

This is a lot like no directions in the rental car for how to start it or how to put it in gear. I was left to my own devices to fend for myself, with no help in sight. It would have taken so little to have helped me have a more positive experience.

It’s the same with our products and services. How much extra effort would it take on your part to include a get started, to do next, or quick start type guide with your products when they’re shipped? Not very much, and imagine how much just that one little thing would mean to your clients.

Imagine what kind of response and good will you would get if somebody from your organization picked up the phone and called each person who ordered from you to check in with them. It’s extra work, to be sure, but in the end it will more than pay for itself.

The better we treat our clients, the more we do for them, the better relationship we have with them, the more likely they are to continue to buy from us, to attend our live events, and become really good clients for a long time to come.

Give your clients some directions and let them experience the joy of doing business with you each and every time you touch them. They’ll stay with you longer and be a lot happier in the long run – and so will you..

About the Author

Diane Conklin is President and founder of Complete Marketing Systems.  She is an internationally known author, entrepreneur, coach, consultant, event planner, speaker and copywriter. As a direct response marketing expert she specializes in showing small business owners how to integrate their online and offline marketing strategies, media and methods, to get maximum results from their marketing dollars.

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