As last fall approached and we checked off the list of school supplies needed for our six-year old, my husband and I realized our daughter needed a new, larger backpack. I wanted to buy her a well-made pack that would last awhile. But being the strong-willed girl that she is, my daughter refused to back down from buying the one she had fallen for at a store.
Even after I showed her others, she continued to ask for the furry one she saw at Target. We finally relented. Fast forward to January. Less than six months after school began, the zipper on the fuzzy backpack broke. Like, no chance of fixing it, broke.
So the search was on for a “real” backpack. I looked around in cyberspace, read reviews, and even asked my friends on Facebook for advice. We settled on a pack from Pottery Barn Kids with her name on it. She picked the colors and a mermaid patch to go along with it. This put my order just over $50, which was more than I wanted to spend, but I wanted something that would last.
The big day arrived, and my daughter excitedly opened the box. The pattern was correct, the name was spelled right, but the patch wasn’t there. This may not be a big deal to grownups, but to her this was what she had been waiting patiently for. (She has been using my CES Press backpack without complaint while waiting for her new one to arrive.)
I called the company, and their service person admitted the mistake. They said they would have to send a new one out, and we would have to send the old one back. I explained how excited my daughter was to use this new pack and questioned if anything could be done. Since this “model” is now backordered, she offered to let us keep the pack we had, continue to use it. Once the backorder was over, they would send us the new one, and then we could send back the used one.
This experience made me a customer for life.
For better service, for better quality, I would gladly pay more. This should be the heart of what we do as custom integration companies. As Steve Jobs said, “Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.” For a CI it is not just great products, but great service that keeps our customers coming back.
A few years back I had a gentleman come in because his TV was broken. He did not purchase the TV from us, but I still asked him a few questions. The model in question had an extended manufacturers warranty, and I let him know. I also gave him the number to call to get the TV fixed. The next week he dropped off sponge candy because I had saved him the money of purchasing a new set. He called me last week, now ready for his next flat-panel TV, and told me he wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else.
My service had scored me my own customer for life.
The moment (and there is a “moment”) that your client realizes you are honest and have their best intentions at heart, they’ll be with you until they feel otherwise. Some of it is about the products you sell. They have to be products you can stand behind. If you sell no-name products and have a showroom, then people will find you when the product fails.
I have a tag line for almost every product line I sell. It’s reason for “why” I sell one particular brand over another:
“Sony is the only brand we have carried for the entire 28 years we have been in business.”
“I personally picked this soundbar at the last electronics show I attended because I was so impressed by its sound.”
“If the system isn’t easy to use, then it is not worth the money. This is why I’ve quoted this customized remote for you.”
These are simple tag lines, but they’re all true. They all show that we are using quality products and/or a service, and therefore price is no longer the leading line.
Turn the tables on this price-based world we live in. Your bottom line and your client will thank you.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.