Ah, the lengths to which you’ll go for great service.
A recent Harris Interactive find a majority of Americans would pay extra for a product – anywhere from 10% to 25% more – for a superior experience in the service department.
But how do you find it?
There are lists. I aggregated the last two years of MSN/Zogby polls in this post, for example. Amazon, Trader Joe’s, Netflix and Apple topped the list of best-performing companies.
You might get better service from one of these companies. You might not. The trick is to look for happy, passionate, and at times, overcaffeinated customers who broadcast their undying love for their companies. Find real customers like that, and you’re likely to find good service.
1. I think I’ll rent from you next time
The setup: Here’s a customer who was overjoyed with his Hertz rental – unlike this one we showed you a few weeks ago – because the company offered a ride back to the airport. It’s a small gesture, but you can see the Hertz employee, Marion, is very proud of himself.
What it says about service: Two things. First, good service can come when you least expect it. And second, absolutely no one is interested when it does (this video has only a few hundred views). Too bad. If Marion had kept this customer waiting for an hour, the video would have turned out differently – and it would have probably had thousands of views. Sigh.
2. If I made a commercial
The setup: So a guy walks into Trader Joe’s with his smartphone …. If you like the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and shop at Trader Joe’s, you’ll want to watch this ode to the quirky and secretive grocery store all the way through. I did. Twice. It’s hilarious. What makes it so funny? Mostly, it pokes fun of the company’s quirkiness and secretiveness while giving it a big virtual kiss. Here’s a devoted customer performing what amounts to a love song to a company.
What it says about service: When you find that kind of passion, odds are you’ll also find good service. You may not care for Brazilian music, but how ‘bout that Two-Buck Chuck?
3. So how was that cup of java? You like?
The setup: Maybe it was the caffeine, but Jacy’s cup of Starbucks coffee really makes her move. You can tell this customer really likes the coffee shop experience, not just the coffee, and nothing says, “I love you” like spontaneously breaking into dance.
What it says about service: This video appears to have been more scripted – kinda hard to make a dance video without a little planning – but that doesn’t take anything away from it. This grateful customer is so over the moon (perhaps overcaffeinated?) that she’s happy to carry Starbucks’ corporate message about creating the “highest quality cup of coffee” — and making a personal connection. For the rest of us, the takeaway is easy: A brand that values consistency probably delivers the same service across its stores.
4. I fell in love at the Apple store
The setup: Few companies inspire the kind of undying loyalty in their customers as Apple Computer, and that apparently extends to rappers. Here’s one channeling his inner Eminem and unleashing technology double-entendres with the efficiency of a new microprocessor. You can tell this guy loves his Mac. Or is it the girl he met at the Apple store? Whatever.
What it says about service: What a sharp contrast to the guy who demolished his Apple laptop on YouTube. But even he had a relatively positive experience, until the computer stopped working. And then Apple reportedly replaced the broken computer.
5. Swagger wagon
The setup: It was only a matter of time before the commercials began to imitate the customer appreciations, so I had to include this “tribute” video for the Toyota Sienna. Yes, it’s a commercial/viral video, but it’s a nod to the genre that I couldn’t resist. Are Toyota minivans any good? From what I hear, yes. I drive a Honda Accord, myself. But after watching this clip, I’ve changed my mind about minivans. They are cool.
What it says: Not to sound a cautionary note, but hey, it’s me. Some of the satisfied customers you find may be bought and paid for. And it’s not always easy to tell the difference.
So if you’re looking for great service, look for happy customers.
Chances are, you’ll be happy, too – if not entertained.
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.