Customer Service Matters

Have you ever received stellar customer service? Have you ever delivered it? If you have provided awesome service to any of your customers, you know what a huge difference it makes in terms of how they view you and your brand. Not only that, it makes a difference in terms of how they view their wallet vis-à-vis your brand.

This article is about the kind of service that makes your customers want to bend over backwards to buy what you have to offer. It's the story of my new relationship with, Grace, a 12-year old entrepreneur and pet sitter who is helping me with my dog, Cooper. Grace is providing the most amazing customer service I have received in a very long time.

Here is how she does it.

5 Ways to Provide Amazing Customer Service

  1. She is proactive

    Earlier this summer, Grace put a flyer in my mail box advertising her pet sitting services. The flyer was colorful, and clearly described how important it was for your pet to have good care while you are on vacation. Since I was planning a vacation at the time, and I was dreading paying the kennel another $400 for a week of care (after which my dog almost always returns home ill), I called Grace. She came to my home with her father so we could get to know each other and pet sit for a day while I was home so we could both determine whether Grace would be a good fit.

    It took me about 30 seconds to decide that Grace was perfect. In fact, my only concern was that she would not want to pet sit Cooper, who is quite a strong canine, and who can be a bit on the hyperactive side. Grace assured me she was up to the job, in part because one of her family pets is a bullmastiff, a large breed that typically weighs far more than Cooper will ever weigh. Here are Grace and Cooper hanging out in our family room.

    We decided that Grace would first come over for a “test day,” where she could work while I was home so we could see what issues might pop up, and she could get acclimated to our home and to Cooper. The test day went perfectly, and I offered the job to Grace. She accepted.

  2. She is likeable

    Grace is personable and she smiles a lot. One of the things I learned about Grace as we got to know each other on that first “test” morning was that she loves to journal. When I showed her my journal, her eyes got big and she began to swoon. We talked about bullet journals, glitter, washi tape, and colored pens. When she returned in the afternoon to walk Cooper, she brought her journal to show me.

    We laughed and smiled as she shared pictures and drawings depicting her summer at camp and so forth. Without trying, Grace made me like her. Her smile, her positivity, and her zest for life made her fun to be around. This made me want to work with her before I even knew whether or not she could do a good job. Grace reeled me in like a fish on a line. I enjoyed her company and wanted to be around her more.

  3. She overdelivered

    When Grace came to my house for the final “test” walk, she asked me if I would like for her to let me know via text how things were going with Cooper while I was away. Grace does not have her own cell phone, so she uses her father's. As a result, I knew that it would not be easy, quick, or convenient for her (or her father) to send pictures to me since her father works outside their home and she would be at my house mainly during business hours. I told her she could do that if she got a chance.

    She did it every single day.

    I didn't ask for it, and it's more than any kennel has ever done or offered to do.

    Grace did more than the minimum. Not only did she do what she promised, but she found simple ways to add value. In the process, she earned a customer (and a friend) for life. Here is one of her text updates.

    My family and I had an awesome time on our vacation. One of our frequent topics of conversation was how much we all liked Grace, and how grateful we were to know that Cooper was in good and caring hands while we were away.

  4. She took care of business

    Grace's fee was $10 per day, and when I paid her before I left for vacation, I forgot to pay her for the “test” day. As we were packing to walk out the door, Grace pulled me aside and told me that I had only written her a check for $40, and that the total for all five days (including the “test” day) was $50.

    I was very impressed with the confidence with which she pointed out my error. She was not shy or bashful, nor was she demanding. She was respectful and firm. She took care of her business in a way that commanded respect, but she was not pushy or presumptuous. It's a tough balance for any entrepreneur, and this 12-year old nailed it. She simply told me that I owed her more money. Boom. I was more than happy to pay her the additional $10 of course.

  5. She followed up

    On Grace's last day, at the end of my family vacation, Grace gave me pointers on how to take better care of Cooper. She recommended a different type of collar. She also pointed out a potential issue with one of his ears, which seemed a bit irritated. She gave me training tips and demonstrated how to pull up on his leash to encourage him to be more obedient. (I was taking notes.) She even said she would come with me to the pet store to buy the best collar for Cooper, if she could find the time after field hockey practice this week.

    The day after Grace finished her job with us, she left a chart in my mailbox outlining exactly what she did with Cooper every day. Here is the daily spreadsheet I received.

    As you can see, it shows how much time she spent with Cooper each day and what tasks she performed. She also noted Cooper's mood and any problems he had. For example, one day, he was extra hyper when she took him outside. It rained on Friday, so she played with him inside the house. She even reported on the nature of his poop one day.

    And notice that he “chased a bunny” on Thursday.

    I always say that the fortune is in the follow-up, and Grace followed up in spades.

    Grace did not have to do any of this. I did not request it, but she thought it would add value, so she did it on her own, and she did it after she had been paid. Grace had no further obligation to me, yet she continued to serve me.

    The day after I received this chart, I gave Grace a $20 (50%) tip. I want her to see an immediate correlation between her pocket book and awesome customer service.

Customer Service Matters

Grace is a perfect example of exceptional customer service.

• Proactively going after your target customer.
• Presenting yourself as friendly, approachable, and engaging.
• Delivering more than you promised.
• Taking care of your business with confidence, without being demanding.
• Following up.

I am inspired to provide better customer service based on Grace's example.

When Grace is ready to apply for her next job, I hope she asks me for a recommendation. In fact, Grace, if you are reading this, you can feel free to send a link to this post to anyone who asks you for a reference, for the rest of your life. It is my great pleasure to vouch for and highly recommend you.

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Are you inspired by Grace's example of stellar customer service? What can you do in your business to follow her example today? If you have any customer service stories to tell, feel free to share them in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.