September '15

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110 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2015 rv-pro.com your liking. Bank tellers knew their cli- ents by name and never asked for identi- fication. Butchers knew exactly how your parents wanted their meat trimmed and graciously advised them about what, how and the amount to prepare for that special Sunday dinner when family came in from out of town. Today, the service we get is generic and uninspired. Products and services are defined by the seller's policies, deliv- ered by systems, and come packaged in the most popular quantity. Not only are the goods and services standardized, but customers also are labeled and categorized likewise. Today, companies of all sorts and sizes are collecting and studying the demographics and buying practices of their target clientele. Sure, some simple preferences – such as smoking or non-smoking, window or aisle, paper or plastic – can be recorded and used to "personalize" my purchase, but most customer relationship management (CRM) programs are limited in how much infor- mation they can store and access quickly. Just today, when I swiped my ATM card at the bank, it asked me if I wanted to pro- ceed in English or Spanish. Don't you think the magnetic strip on the back of my card could hold that one little piece of infor- mation so I'm not asked every time? Do they think I'm going to change my answer? Good Enough Service … Isn't Try this definition for basic customer service on for size: When I am shopping, I expect the store's sales associate to make eye contact with me, smile, and say "hello." Regardless of whether the associate has a name badge, I want the person to intro- duce himself or herself to me and ask me for my name. If the sales associate uses my name in conversation from time to time, that's a plus. Aside from that, the associate should take a moment to hear what I am looking for and then find it for me, either by pointing me in the right direction or by bringing it to me. Lastly, I want them to conclude the encounter with a sincere "thank you." That is basic, no-frills cus- tomer service. When I get the basic version of cus- tomer service, I am generally satisfied. Now ask yourself: How many times out of 10 opportunities do you receive all the components of basic customer service? For me, my unscientific estimate is about six. Even on the four occasions I don't get the "whole enchilada," I would still be "gener- ally satisfied" with the shopping experience. I would be satisfied – but not delighted, and certainly not inspired or motivated to return and shop again — unless it's the only store that carries the thing I need. Therein lies the secret to customer loy- alty. The fact is, most buyers are loyal to a particular product more so than the place where that product is sold. Now, that is not to suggest you sell only those RV makes and models that have a loyal following. In fact, generally speaking, no manufac- turer has 100 percent market share. Case in point: Most cola drinkers are strictly Coke or Pepsi lovers, but not both. It does sug- gest, however, that you should study what it is that products, businesses and individuals do to cultivate such faithful loyalty from their customers. The Ties That Bond Customer loyalty gives rise to pur- chasing habits based on an emotional bond between the buyer and the product, busi- ness, or salesperson. It is that emotional bond that leads to repetitive behaviors so much so that buyers will go out of their way to buy that product or do business with that company or individual. Loyal customers do not comparison- shop – they want what they want and will go without, at least for a time, if they cannot find their favorite. Customer loyalty is not cognitive. Rather, it is often developed over time, but stems from a series of significantly pleasing subconscious events: Wow! experiences. Allow me to give an example. I live in metro-Atlanta and fly for work often. Although Delta Airlines is based here and has the lion's share of gates and flights in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I choose Southwest Airlines to get me where I need to go nearly 95 percent of the time. The only reason I will take an alternative airline is if Southwest does not fly to my desired destination. And then I will likely fly some other airline other than Delta. How did my customer loyalty to South- west come to be? When I first moved to Georgia 20 years ago, AirTran Airways – which Southwest acquired in 2010 – was a fledgling new discount airline that wanted to adopt the business model of its then-rival Southwest. The company welcomed busi- ness travelers to try its friendly, attentive service as it interacted with customers in the air, on the ground and on the phone. Over my AirTran years, I enjoyed the newest and roomiest fleet of aircraft around, free in-flight XM radio, free or low-cost upgrades into business class, on- time flights into less hectic terminals and " Customer loyalty is not cognitive. Rather, it is often developed over time, but stems from a series of significantly pleasing subconscious events: Wow! experiences. "

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