It started because my twin 16-year-old sons had outgrown the length of their twin beds. They needed a longer, larger mattress and box spring set. We thought we needed a full mattress, but we did our research and discovered that while a full mattress is wider than a twin, it is not longer. A queen size, on the other hand, is wider and longer. Therefore, we needed two queen-sized beds.
Free Delivery and Set Up
We checked local ads and found a place that made this promise: “We will deliver, set up, and take away your old mattress.” Sounds good to us. So we went to the retail store and settled on a set that was not too hard and not too soft and, thankfully, on sale. In other words: just right for both of us.
We placed our order with the salesperson and were informed that they would be by between 5:00 and 5:30 pm on the following Friday to deliver the new beds.
We cleared a path to their upstairs rooms, removing mirrors and pictures on the stairway wall. My sons managed to rake away enough of their teenage “stuff” to allow a bed-sized footprint for the delivery crew.
On Friday, the delivery truck arrived (on time) as promised. We showed them the path up to their rooms. One guy carried up the boxes containing the metal frames. Then they brought in the mattresses. It was a tight squeeze between the stairway railing and the first landing, but mattresses bend. They got them into their rooms and went back for the box springs. The problem with box springs, by their nature, is that they are designed not to bend. And in fact, no matter how the workmen tipped, repositioned or approached the problem, the box spring just could not be made to clear the gap between the ceiling, landing and railing.
After 10 minutes of trial and error, it became clear that the box springs would not make it up the stairs unless the railing was removed. They stared at me, then exchanging a glance passed between themselves. Then, they carefully set the box springs down on its’ edge against the living room couch. The driver handed me the receipt and the warranty . . . and left! They left!! They left me with two queen-sized box spring sets leaning against my couch in my living room, two mattresses leaning against the wall in their bedrooms, and two metal frame assembly sitting in its’ box … all waiting for ME!
I suppose you could say that the store kept its promise: “We will deliver, set up, and take away your old mattress.” They did take away the old mattress. They did deliver the parts. And, they left me feeling . . . Set Up! Three hours later, with a collection of all the wrong tools, and the twin’s help, we had the railing off. A neighbor helped me wrestle the bed upstairs. Then, my twins assembled their frames.
We were still very heated about this entire experience, and we concluded that the delivery guys were a reflection of the culture of the store. In the end, the owner made some lame excuses, and pointed out some fine print in the agreement. The bottom line was . . . What was the level of customer satisfaction?
As we teach in our Executive Mentoring Programs, every complaint is an opportunity for improvement, and in this case the owner really missed this opportunity. The bottom line was that I just didn’t care if they improved or not. They had their one and only chance to make me a satisfied customer instead of just a sale, and they blew this opportunity.
Four Areas of Focus in Client Fulfillment
There are really four areas to consider in bringing maximum value to your customer.
1- Product Design and Strategy: Do your products do what you promise they’ll do? Are they designed with your customers’ needs in mind?
2- Production Process: No matter what you produce: beds, donuts, career counseling, financial services, accounting, remodeled kitchens, or tai chi training–it must be of the highest quality and orchestrated to minimize cost.
3- Delivery Process: Your delivery process is equally the physical transfer of your product or service to the customer and the experience your customer has at the time of this transfer. This is more than a hand-off and a signature. This is the critical point at which your customer must feel the BEST about the decision that’s been made.
4- Customer Service: This is free. This enhances the main offer. This is where you have your most critical competitive advantage. It could be additional information, follow-up assistance, advice, upgrades, credit assistance or a hyper-responsive complaints department.
The only way to assure that your clients are getting exactly what it is they need each and every time, is to create a system to deliver it. No promise is more important to keep than the one you make to your customers about your products or services. If you don’t deliver on this promise, no marketing strategy or sales technique will keep your customers coming back. You have to prove that you’re paying attention to their needs and that they can expect you to give them what they want.