By Joan Sherwood, Sr.Ed.
Professional Photographer magazine has covered instances of notable customer service before, but I feel it’s always worth sharing new ones to encourage photographers to step back and evaluate the level customer service they deliver to their clients.
After some failed attempts to thaw out and resuscitate my refrigerator this weekend, I declared it definitely broken on Sunday afternoon and texted a friend who I knew had a good appliance repair person. She replied with the contact information, and added, “Or you could try CityBoysRUs. They’ve been getting good reviews from neighbors, and you might be able to get service today.”
That sounded worth trying. I wrote down my refrigerator make and model number and called. The person who answered was polite and concise and listened to the diagnostic information I could give him. He took my information and let me know he would check out parts availability for my fridge and call me back within 15 minutes.
He did so and let me know what my options were. Parts for my model wouldn’t be available until the next day, but he could come out that evening and diagnose the problem so that he could pick up the right part Monday morning, and no, it wouldn’t add to the cost for him to come to my house twice.
He called when he was on his way, gave me an ETA, and arrived at the promisedtime, which was 7:30 p.m. On a Sunday. He even had one more call to go to after mine.
When you think of appliance repair guys, you may picture an older guy, kind of slobby, taking their time with things, a little low energy. Let me tell you, Curtis from CityBoysRUs was professional, courteous, friendly, and highly efficient. With his well-organized case of tools he disassembled the parts of my freezer compartment as if he had a drill sergeant timing him for speed.
He showed me the problem, gave me the diagnosis, priced the replacement part with a short call to his home base, secured my agreement for the repair and the cost, took half payment up front, and scheduled his return visit the next day at a time that was convenient for me.
He arrived as scheduled, again calling beforehand with his ETA, and introduced me to his equally polite and professional assistant, who was in training. They efficiently performed the part replacement. The assistant not only wiped down the inside of the refrigerator with disinfectant, he swept the floor around it. Believe me, that dirt was there when they got there.
Curtis settled my bill, and I chatted with them as they finished up and told them how impressed I was with the quality of their service.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Curtis asked, “Would you mind leaving us a review?”
“No, not at all,” I said. “Where would you prefer? Yelp?”
“I can show you if your Internet is up,” he said.
“Great.” I led the way to my Mac in the next room.
He directed me to search Google not for his business name, but for the SEO search term they are targeting to land as a top search result. CityBoysRUs was on the first page in the top three or four unpaid results. I clicked on the link to “61 reviews” and an easy-to-fill-out review form was at the top of the page. He said, “All we ask is that you be specific about the appliance we repaired for you; yours was a GE refrigerator.” Then he left me to write whatever I wanted, but his simple and reasonable request would seed my review with additional valuable search keywords for his business' reviews.
Really, it’s just brilliant. I’m sure that they gauge which clients they ask to do online reviews on the spot, the ones like me who are obviously Internet savvy, who had a great experience, and who wouldn't feel put out by the request. These guys delivered a great customer experience, and they were confident in their service.
When they were all packed up and ready to go, Curtis shook my hand and said, “Thank you for letting me help.” Nice touch.
Now, look at your business, the kind of energy you exude when you’re with clients, how you treat them, the confidence you show in your product, and what you’re doing to parlay great customer experience into rave reviews and referrals that will send more business your way.
How are you doing? Can you do better? Because there is another photographer out there who, like Curtis, knows how to do the job well, deliver great customer experience, and ensure that more business will be coming his way.