It’s the Little Things That Cement Customer Loyalty. Not the Big Things.

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I went to a bike store in the 60s on the west side of Manhattan yesterday to have my bike tuned up for spring training/my Ironman.

Walking in, it was surprisingly crowded for a Monday at 2pm. I waited, and waited, and waited. About ten minutes in, someone came over and asked what I needed. When I told him a tune-up and a fitting, he said “the tune up will take five days, we’re backed up, and you’ll need to call ahead to schedule a fitting.”

“Well, I’m here now,” I said. Can I schedule one now?”

“No, call to schedule one,” he said. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Fifteen minutes later without ever seeing this employee again, I took my bike and walked out.

I walked up the West Side to the high 70s and Columbus, where I walked into another bike store.

As I walked the bike in, an employee came over “Hey, man, how’s it going. What can I do for you?”

“I need a tune up and a fitting.”

“We can do the tune up, no problem. How about you pick it up Thursday, and when you do, we can do the fitting?”

I was happy with that. Actually, I was ecstatic, based on my interaction with the previous bike place. All this place did was provide me with normal customer service, and I was over the moon. Then they took the cake:

“Wait, this sticker on your bike – You bought this bike here! The tune-up is free!”

Floored. I’d forgotten all about that.

So what can you do to be as amazing as Bicycle Renaissance? The little things.

1) One level above crap. I’ve said this countless, countless times. Just be one level above crap, which most of the time, doesn’t even have to be good. Compared to how I was treated at the original bike store, the service at Bicycle Renaissance was over the moon. But it really wasn’t. It was good. But to me, it was like they gave me a donut full of bike speed, guaranteeing I’d win my next race. All because they were nice.

2) Note the stress level, and counteract it. I personally hate going into bike shops, because they’re usually filled with people in much better shape than me, who know much more about bikes, and all wear matching jerseys that show off their flat stomachs. Sure enough, at the first bike store, it was filled with those people, all of whom seemed to be getting help from the employees, while “not-like-everyone-else” me stood in the entry-way, waiting to be talked to. This didn’t help my stress, and by the time I walked out, I hated everything about cycling.

How hard would it have been to come up to me in the beginning and treat me like a human being? I get that you’re busy – that’s great. But after 25 minutes, I wanted nothing to do with your store anymore. On the other hand, walking into Bicycle Renaissance and being treated like a human being? Nothing could have been nicer.

3) Just a little bit of surprise and delight. BR threw in the tune-up without my even knowing I got it for free. They’re still making money off of me for the fitting, and you know I’ll be back in there a hundred times before my Ironman in August since they were so nice to me. They smiled, treated me like I mattered, and threw in a free service that I was supposed to get anyway. Can you believe that? They provided normal, everyday “good” customer service, and I’m talking about them like they haned me a sub-9-hour Ironman.

4) Cement loyalty. They’re two miles away from me (in NYC, that’s huge,) yet I’ll go out of my way to go there every single time, because they were kind, they understood the value of service, and they made me feel comfortable. My loyalty is now 100% with Bicycle Renaissance. The irony is, the other bike place helped me get there, by treating me the way they did.

It’s not hard to keep a client in an age where the client expects crap. It’s really not. Just keep your customer hat on – Imagine how you would feel in any given situation if you were the customer.

My new book coming out next year is all about customer loyalty and how to nail it – Someone sent me an amazing story about a customer that “treated them like they’d treat their mother.” That stayed with me. Can you do that?

Join me next week in Atlanta, or the following weeks in Houston, NYC, Jacksonville, Miami, and Toronto for my Business Mastermind Series, where we discuss how to be not just one, but countless levels above crap.

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