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Friday, February 26, 2010

LASTING IMPRESSIONS: Raiders of the “Lost Art”

Lasting Impressions with Sian Lindemann

Of Customer Service… and Lack of Personal Attention

Have you recently tried to contact a company to make an inquiry about your account ? Have you been placed on hold for an inordinate amount of time?

Have you been redirected to 14 other contact points only to discover that your particular question is not addressed in “the list?”

There is much to be said for the Art of Customer Service as an “engagement” consideration. While we are often excited and ready to help a new customer access our service base, how one handles the “problems” or the ongoing “client retention” is quite another topic.

I have had the pleasure to experience the best of service with current companies and I’ve encountered the opposite. And I believe, as perhaps we all do, that there needs to be some balance between the two.

In my personal experience, on the nature of the art business, there definitively needs to be considerable attention to customer satisfaction, with a long term exchange, not unlike a “personal” relationship one would have with a romantic partner.

Consideration and delicacy in an art acquisition, it is essential to deal directly with the same emotional triggers of “love,” and its vulnerabilities.

Customer service is by definition the relationship that ensues once the purchase has been made. The best example I’ve experienced over the last several years is the personal exchange I’ve had with the automobile company, Hyundai.

I purchased my car in Washington State and subsequently have required service is five different states since its acquisition: Washington, Arizona, (two locations in Arizona ) Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Bar none, the service in each location was above and beyond the best personal experience I have ever encountered. Not just about the car being serviced, but also the attention to my time, payment, and ongoing notifications and support. Hyundai, no matter the location, has been consistent throughout with the best and most generous support, going well above the call of duty in all of the locations. Their service would insure that I would buy from Hyundai again, and have actually looked into doing so.

Additionally, the follow up regarding the option for a secondary sale is spectacular.

They have my loyalty, and have for over nine years.

There is no need to define “bad” service as I’m sure we’ve all had an experience of it at some point in time. But what in particular would be an extra mile you could offer as a means and method to support your customer to consistently choose your company and service base first… should be positioned as the highest priority.

There is surely no need to go into those situations which have been less than exceptional as we all know what that feels like. So in keeping with the “romantic nature” of an art sale what could you do to make your client continue to feel exceptionally well cared for?

It can be as simple as the little gestures that you would naturally impart to a romantic partner that make one feel extremely special.

The List
1) Invite your clients to participate in something that is light, friendly and is not a constant request for a sale. ~ Hey what a concept ~ A friendly phone call!

2) An occasional card, birthday card, special event card as a wedding anniversary or anniversary of one’s last purchase, to discover how they are enjoying the original painting or other object d’art they have received.

3) A small gift sent directly to your client’s door. I rarely ever receive real mail other than bills, so how much fun would it be to receive the gift of a “hand painted” greeting card, or the like, to be used at the customer’s discretion, sent directly to the client’s home as a reminder of how much you appreciate their business.

4) An invitation to lunch, dinner or a wine tasting that has nothing to do with another art sale.

These may seem simple actions. Yet in such a harried and rushed environment in the business world, we seem to have lost these intrinsic niceties that make the other party feel great. The client may not take you up on your offer, but the thought and consideration to have extended the invitation will not go unnoticed.

In parting ~ I once ran the office ~ now many, many years ago ~ for a freight logistics company. It was a horrifically busy business, with many problems due to freight damage, late arrivals of major shipping and truck lines, and a plethora of problems. Yet with all of the problems, we implemented a variety of services that literally quadrupled the company’s business, and were specific to beefing up the “customer service.”

1) We implemented services that included that WE handled all the claims for freight damage incurred by the trucking lines. An occasional pizza and beer for the whole shipping and claims office assured our claims got first consideration for payment.
2) We called and chatted with the claims supervisors, truck drivers, and the end receiving offices for all companies involved.
3) We provided the best pricing we could find by building our access and database for private and company-based shipping services.
4) We provided solutions for consideration of repackaging product to minimize damage.

5) We had fun doing so!

These may seem simple solutions. But where art and beauty go together so too does a well timed delivery of a single flower delivered impeccably to the recipients door.

Take the time to treat your clients like royalty. and you will create a magnificent and spectacularly loyal fan base. Most importantly, in these times where the “personal” seems to have gone out the window with the wild wild west of the Internet, make sure that your communications are personal, beautifully executed and well constructed.

Wishing you continued success in your career !

Sian Lindemann
February 2010

For more information, please visit Sian's TNNW Bio.


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1 comment:

Bill Doerr said...

Sian --

Your posting is refreshing. You remind us all that, in the end, the difference between option 'A' and option 'B' may rest completely on having cared enough to say or do something that another person would appreciate.

I recently referred a client to a software company. A few days later a package arrived at my home. It was for my wife. A box of Godiva chocolates. The note read, "Your husband helped us gain a new client. We hope this helps you have a nice day, too."

Simple. Effective. Memorable. It wasn't the time it required, it was the thought-full-ness it reflected.

You're so right. A little thoughtfulness and the ability to say and do things that follow from that can make you feel the magic. Nice post.

Thank you.


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