By Lucio Palazzo, special to the News
In the new book “Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money,” by Kevin O’Leary of Dragon’s Den fame, he talks about a $500 Chanel coat his mother saved up and purchased over 20 years ago. That’s a lot of money even in today’s dollars. This coat, though, lasted ... and apparently still looks great. That’s quality.
My father was a cabinet maker and swore by two brands – Stanley and Craftsman. He used them throughout his 40-plus year career. He’s gone, but the tools still live on. That’s quality.
I recently purchased a new pair of shoes through a popular large retail chain. They lasted two months. That’s not quality. To add insult to injury, there was no one around that day to offer any kind of advice either.
When I lived in Los Angeles and needed a new suit, I chose a popular chain called the Men’s Wearhouse. I’d never shopped there before and didn’t know what to expect. But, let’s face it, I’m a guy and I can’t dress myself, so I’ll take any help I could get!
The salesperson asked a lot of questions and helped me pick a great suit, tie, shirt and belt. He was a big help.
To my surprise, two weeks later he called me and asked, “How’s your suit doing?” Wow. No one had ever asked me that before. “Now that’s service,” I thought.
I remember an old high school buddy, Scott, who had to study two eight-inch-thick binders for a new part-time job at a local hardware store. The store knew that to provide quality service, their employees had to be ready to answer any question from “What’s the best type of lumber for a deck?” to “How do I fix my noisy toilet?”
Today, though, we seem to have moved away from quality, advice and service and focus solely on price. Everyone likes a good deal, but I’ve had it with bad quality. I’ll gladly save up to buy something I know is well made and will last.
Today, we can’t be sure of what a product is made of, how it was made, where it came from or how long it will last. I’d like to see us move toward making quality products and arm sales people with the knowledge to provide expert advice on these products. Customers will appreciate this and give a business something priceless in return: loyalty.
Loyalty says “Thank you for your advice – and for giving making an excellent product. I’ll definitely be back and purchase from you again in the future.”
Enhancing the knowledge of your frontline team empowers them to create the kind of relationship that ensures a return customer.
Maybe the next time that customer comes into the store, they will hear, with delight as I did, “Hey, how’s your suit doing?”
Lucio Palazzo is the publisher of Canada’s Kid Times newspaper and authoring two books scheduled for release this summer. He can be reached through SmartOil.ca.
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