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Where Did The Service Go?
By John Watson

Remember when every neighborhood had a "Service Station"? Each station was operated by a major oil company, Texaco, Mobil, Gulf etc.

You would pull into the station, an attendant would come out, fill your car with gas, wash your windshield, check the oil and water, and even check the air pressure in the tires for you. You never had to get out of the car. This was when gas averaged .21 cents per gallon.

Most of the larger major brand stations had two bays attached to the "office". One bay was where they changed oil, did minor tune-ups etc. The other bay was where they would wash and wax your car, by hand!

If you had a flat you went to the neighborhood "Service Station" where the attendant would fix the flat for you.

Today if you need gas you go to the local "Convenience" store, get out, pump your own gas, look around for water and a squeegee to clean your windshield, hope the oil is ok and look at the tires to see if they are low, and if one needs air you have to pay extra for that. Then you go inside the store and wait in line with the other shoppers to pay for your gas.

Or, you can go to the local "Gas Station", get out, pump your own gas etc, then go to a "Kiosk" situated in the center of the pumps and pay an "attendant" who is sitting behind a window covered with bars. No service whatsoever.

If you need your oil changed you drive around town and look for a "Kwik Lube", which you never find in your neighborhood.

If you need your car washed you go to the "Car Wash", which is self service. You pay for the car wash and then do it yourself. Call this service?

If you get a flat you have to look for a "Tire Store" to get it fixed.

Today it takes five different businesses to take care of the business a "Service Station" did at one time.

Why do I bring this up at a time when more and more business is being conducted on the internet with no personal contact? I believe that the majority of the people still appreciate good service when they get it. Also, the more associated items/services they can get at one place, the more willing they will be to do business with you. Wal-Mart has shown this to be true.

Take an inventory of your business. Are there any other items/services you could add that would compliment what you now have? Are there any ways that you could improve the service for your customers? How about a newsletter to let your customers know what you are doing to keep your service updated or to announce special offers?

The more information you can get about your customer the better. Did you get his birth date? Send him a birthday card. Any type of personal recognition is appreciated. Another idea, about a week after their business transaction send them a thank you note and tell them that you appreciate their business. Get personal, your customers will remember you for it.

Related Articles:

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Communicating with Customer Focus
Having a customer-focused mindset is important in providing exceptional customer service. Applying effective communication skills is equally important.

Eight Secrets to Maintaining an Outstanding Business
Aim not to make money. Instead, help others to succeed and provide them with a solution to their problems. Keep this secret in mind while working your business and the money will come. Believe it.

John writes a weekly column for his hometown newspaper. You may read some of his stories at: http://go.to/backfence You may contact John direct at: backfence@www.com

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