The Secret to Good Customer Service

June 13, 2012

Acclaimed scholar, Charles W. Eliot, once said: “There is no mystery about successful business intercourse … Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is so flattering as that.”

You would think that would be self evident, yet Dale Carnegie knew merchants who would rent expensive space, buy their goods economically, dress their windows appealingly, spend big bucks on advertising, and then hire sales clerks who interrupt customers, contradict them, irritate them, and all but drive them from the store.

In his legendary book, “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” he tells the story of J.C. Wootton, who purchased a suit in a department store in Newark, NJ. The suit proved to be disappointing—the dye of the coat rubbed off and darkened the collar of his shirt.

Taking the suit back to the store, he found the salesman he had dealt with and told his story—or rather, “attempted” to tell his story, but was never able to because of the salesman’s constant interruptions. The salesman became belligerent, calling Wootton a liar and accusing him of trying to put something over on the store.

Wootton was sizzling. The salesman had questioned his honesty and he was on the verge of telling him to take his suit and go to hell, when suddenly the head of the department strolled by and overheard the heated discussion.

The department head turned Wootton from an angry man into a satisfied customer by doing three things:

First, he listened to Wootton’s story from beginning to end without saying a word.

Second, When Wootton had finished and the salesman again started to air his views, the department head argued with him from Wootton’s point of view. He pointed out that the collar had obviously been stained from the suit, and also insisted that nothing should be sold from that store that did not give complete satisfaction.

Third, the department head admitted he didn’t know the cause of the trouble and said to Wootton, “What would you like me to do with the suit? I’ll do anything you say.”

Wootton and the department head agreed hat Wootton would try the suit for another week and if Wootton didn’t find it completely satisfactory, he would bring it in and the store would give him one that was.

Exemplary customer service is the only way to generate loyal customers—especially in cases such as this where the customer is clearly dissatisfied. Remember: a satisfied customer will tell five friends … while a dissatisfied customer will tell 30 people about his or her experience.

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