Profits lie in exceeding customer expectations

By Nik Frye
May 1, 2008
RETAIL, AUTO : WINDSHIELD REPAIR

When I joined the glass industry in the late 1970s, one of the first things I learned was that customer service is the best way to build a brand. I worked for a small family business at the time, and each customer was critical to our survival and growth. We worked to surpass every customer's expectations, regardless of the money he or she spent.

Many consumers remember the little things you do to show you value their business. By servicing customers beyond their expectations, you create a feeling of satisfaction that is difficult to cultivate any other way.

Every time a client calls or visits your business, you and your employees must manage that interaction so it leads to a sale. Sometimes, all you need is the right price. Oftentimes, you need skilled personnel trained to identify and satisfy customer needs.

Studies tell us that businesses are seven times more likely to retain a customer who is "completely satisfied" compared to "just satisfied." By encouraging an attitude of customer satisfaction at every level of your company, you set the tone for success. If you fail to make customer service your first priority, it is unlikely your employees will on their own.

Share your passion
One of the things that has kept my passion for this industry alive over the years is educating end users about the products we sell and install. It is a tremendous opportunity to speak to a potential customer who knows nothing about windshield repair or replacement, and it is our obligation as retailers to make them fans of our industry. If you can't convey your passion for what you do, don't expect your employees or customers to do it for you.

Handle consumer interactions correctly, and you will make customers for life who refer others to your business. Handle them badly, and your customers will still talk about you, only, you won't like what they have to say.

Support industry standards
For years, our industry languished without standards for windshield repair and auto glass replacement. Now, we have the Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard and the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard. Both offer an excellent way to confirm your commitment to customer service.

I applaud all of the shops that have endorsed ROLAGS or registered with AGRSS. You have made a public commitment to quality, accountability and best practices.

Disappointingly, the majority of our industry has not yet embraced these critical standards. Some business owners question their validity and necessity. Others say they are of no benefit to the small shop owner. Some even argue that adoption and compliance of such standards are not tied directly to new business.

The only way to refute these objections is to look at the standards from the customer's point of view. If you have decided not to support our industry standards, ask yourself: Is recognizing, practicing and publicizing the ROLAGS and AGRSS standards good customer service?

I like the fact that we have a lot of independent thinkers in this industry and that shop owners have a great deal of flexibility in the services they offer. Glass shops can differ in many ways, but ROLAGS and AGRSS give us common ground. They enable us to provide customer service at a level never before seen in our industry.

If you support ROLAGS and AGRSS, consumers won't care how large your business is. All they will see is that you've exceeded their expectations.


 

The author is vice president of sales and marketing for Glass America, Chicago; a member of the NGA's National Windshield Repair Committee; and a member of the PPG ProStars Leadership Council. Write him at nfrye@glassusa.com.