I’m not an accountant…in fact, the one and only test I ever failed in my entire educational career was an accounting test (not that I’m still traumatized from that or anything). These days, the only accounting I’m qualified to do is numbering my high heels collection. I am, however, the ultimate accounting groupie – I love all my CPA friends like Adrian, Kara, & Dub-Dot. One of the things I most like hearing from them are stories about their clients, and what they do to deliver a great customer experience. When Shayna Chapman talks about one of the small business owners in her small Ohio town, it quickly becomes obvious that she is committed to delivering an amazing customer experience to these folks – and more importantly, that she truly cares about each and every one of them personally as well as professionally.
While I find this impressive, some might say that making her clients feel special is part of her job as the business owner’s accountant and trusted business advisor – but is it really? I mean, doing a tax return and keeping track of a balance sheet is not too different than many of the other services that each and every one of us utilize on a daily basis – for example a dry cleaner – but how often does our dry cleaner make us feel special?
When I bought my house five years ago, I spent a while exploring different neighborhood businesses; the hardware store, the coffee shop, of course the shoe-repair man, and several different dry cleaners. While I tend to be much more particular about where I get my morning cup of coffee than I’ve ever been about dry cleaning, I wound up returning to the shop around the corner that always sent coupons for 40% off services…hey, a penny saved is a penny earned!
Well as unconcerned as I am with who handles my laundry, I’m equally insistent that I should receive superior customer service wherever I go, but especially at a business where I’m a “regular”. So over the past few years, as my wardrobe has gotten a bit more colorful (and a lot more high-maintenance), I’m making more frequent trips to the cleaners. What I started to realize, is that my dry cleaner didn’t really value me as a client – she often made me uncomfortable by asking me to pay in cash vs. using my debit card and wouldn’t give me the discount if I happened to walk out of my house without the coupon that morning. The final straw came when she recently closed the shop unannounced by posting a sign on the door – not very helpful when you need your clothes for a business trip. My dry cleaning honeymoon was over.
As I tried to figure out where to take my next load of laundry, I happened to remember one shop in particular – they were a bit expensive I recalled, but boy, those people were friendly! I decided to try that first, and see what I thought. Much to my surprise, as I walked into Heritage Dry Cleaners in Irvine, I was greeted with a wonderful smile and a “Hello Ms. Hogan! Long time we don’t see you…” Whoa. Really? I hadn’t been there for four years, he remembered my name? Now that is what I call customer service. I’ll have you know, their prices haven’t gone down, but I’ve not gone anywhere else ever since that day.
Sure, any of us can go to the local H&R block for a tax return, or can take our clothes to any local cleaner – but I guarantee that the ones who treat their clients like MY dry cleaner (and like Shayna), are the ones that will become invaluable to everyone that receives that superior customer service. So my challenge to you is to think about what you do to make sure that your clients feel valued. What do you do to let them know you care about them? That and $3.95 will get you a clean skirt to wear!