Crystal City Framing is a successful small business in an area just outside of Washington, DC in the United States. Paul and his assistant, Joe, have a loyal client base. Even though there has been an economic downturn and many small businesses have closed, Crystal City Framing continues to thrive. What is their secret to success? For them, it is Superior Customer Service.
Three essential ingredients for achieving and maintaining excellent customer service for growing a business are:
Paul and Joe offer these and more. Even though his shop is for framing certificates, maps, photos and art, Paul also stocks art work from local artists. My first purchase was an oil painting that I saw in their shop window upon moving to the area. I enjoyed the painting so much that each time I walked by the shop, I could not imagine living without it. So, I bought the painting to take home and enjoy every day. It hangs in my dining room, and I smile every time I see it.
I expected Joe to wrap it and since it was heavy, I expected a little handle so I could carry it easier than carrying by holding on to the frame. What I did not expect was Paul to offer to come around the counter and then carry the painting to my apartment and hang it on the wall for me. I live close so he was not out of the shop very long, but still that extra effort was excellent for someone new to the city.
There are many framing shops in our area, several even close to Paul’s business. But after receiving excellent service from him, I returned to his shop for my next framing project. Joe did a great job with the matting and framing. Since I was now “a neighbor,” Paul gave me a 10% discount on my purchase. He also gives me a 20% discount for each new customer I bring by. What a great way to honor referrals for new business!
I take all my framing projects, personal and professional to Paul. I often had to take a framed certificate to a second shop for engraving. I mentioned this once to Paul by saying I needed the certificate by a certain time so I could get it to the engraver. Before long, there was a sign in Paul’s shop reading “engraving offered here.” How lovely to be able to drop the project off for framing and have engraving completed as well. In addition Paul also will arrange to have anything shipped if the customer wants that service too.
Another time I took a marble clock to Paul for new engraving. He took it upon himself to take it to the clock shop down the street to have the pens and pen sockets replaced for me. Did I pay for extra work? Of course; but the point is I would never have thought about getting new pens and pen sockets. Paul continues to add value to his customers.
The best story I have though is about Paul’s shipping service. In our area people move in and out often. One guy went to several shops and said, “I want to buy some art, and when I am done with it here I want you to ship it home for me.” Everyone pointed him to the UPS Store down the block, everyone but Paul. Paul said, “If you buy the art from me, I’ll take it to your apartment and hang it for you; and when you are ready to move, I’ll come and get it as well as wrap it and ship it for you too.”
Because of this Paul has increased his revenue and profit on sales he may not have made had he not offered such great customer service. In addition, he has created a good reputation for himself. As is often the case with delighted and satisfied customers, they told their friends and family. By providing this extra service, Paul keeps growing his customer base and his business continues to flourish.
Paul is a true entrepreneur. He keeps his eyes open for ways to increase his business by offering new services for his customers that they need and by providing services for them that make their day easier. Paul finds ways to provide things to his customers that other similar businesses do not. And, just as important, he provides it with a genuineness and a kindness that is always welcome in any business.
So, look around at what you are providing to customers. Continue to consider:
· How can you make the life of a customer easier?
· What do customers need?
· What value-added services can be offered to customers?
· What do customers want that you now do not offer?
· How can you improve referrals from your customers?
· What is a new product or service you can offer?
The best way to retain customers and get new referrals is to show kindness and going the extra step of treating everyone like a close neighbor!