My Neighborhood Knows More about Customer Service than Your Company

If all companies were as concerned about service as my neighbors proved to be, the business world would be in a lot better shape.

Our home is a short distance from the harbor.  This means we have a perpetually damp basement.  So we have a dehumidifier and
a sump pump that are integral parts of our lives.  But in the midst of last week’s snow storm, the sump pump quit working.

While out shoveling the snow and talking with two of my neighbors, I mentioned my predicament.  One neighbor explained a couple of things that could be the problem, and how to address it.  The other neighbor said he had a colleague who did restoration work around town, and probably had a few extra used sump pumps in reserve, and he would try to get hold of one.

So, while Neighbor #2 called his colleague, I went and tried the things that Neighbor #1 suggested.  Neighbor #2 came with me, and brought an arsenal of tools, including a wet/dry vacuum, which cleaned up the overflowing water.  It was a messy job, but unfortunately we did not fix the pump.  Meanwhile, Neighbor #2’s colleague called back and did have some extra pumps, but he could not guarantee that they would work, so he would go and take a look and see if he could get one in working order.  In the meantime, Neighbor #1 called to see if I had any luck fixing the pump.  When I told him it still didn’t work, he called Neighbor #3, who happened to have an old pump that worked, but he no longer used.  He said I could have it if I needed it!

So I went over, got the pump, installed it, and presto!  It worked like a charm!  Dry basement!  Money spent: $0.

Here’s what my neighbors did right, customer service-wise:  First and foremost, they wanted to help.  That, in and of itself, goes a long way.  They made my problem their focus.  They tapped into years of experience in fixing household appliances, and suggested actions that could address the problem.  When that didn’t work, they pursued other means of help.  Calls were made, people were contacted, and a solution was found.  They didn’t leave me hanging.  And all three neighbors checked in with me later, to make sure the pump was still working.

The moral of this story is, the best kind of service you can provide is the kind that a real friend would provide.  While it may be true that you don’t have the same relationships with your customers that you have with your friends, you can certainly emulate the caring and helpful nature of those relationships.  Your customers will recognize that effort as the kind of effort that real friends and family do for one another, and that positive experience will make a profound impact on them.  This is how businesses retain their customers for life.  Loyalty.  If your customers know that you care about them, they will not be inclined to leave you.

— Chuck Dennis


  1. Posted March 5, 2009 at 4:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s a great story and a great example for those of us in business. And I am so glad that you ended up with a dry basement.

  2. Posted March 5, 2009 at 9:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Great story, you have wonderful neighbors.

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