There aren’t many times when you go into a business and come out feeling you got more than you expected in terms of customer service. But I had that experience last week.
Every now and again when I get busy, I just pull into one of those quick lube places in the city to get the oil changed in my vehicles. I have the facility to easily do that at the farm and save money, but sometimes it’s just worth it to have a shop do the job.
Overall, my experiences as a customer in service departments of dealerships, garages and specialty lube places have been satisfactory, for the most part, but few incidents stand out as exceptional. That’s why when I pulled into a quick lube garage in Regina last week I was a bit taken aback by how well that operation was run.
When I pulled up to the door, an employee came out immediately and told me how long the wait would be, and then she offered to get me a coffee while I waited. Her estimate of the wait time was pretty accurate. When I pulled in, the staff were very friendly and attentive, unlike the nonchalant attitudes you often encounter.
Beside my driver’s door window in the service bay were two TV screens. One had pictures of the two mechanics who were working on my Jeep and a summary of their oil change experience to bolster my confidence in their abilities, along with a little bit of information to personalize them. The other screen was a real-time camera showing the work being done underneath me.
At some businesses these employees would be referred to as just “grease monkeys”, doing a basic job and not expected to do anything more than make sure they put the oil filler cap back on correctly (which, in my experience, hasn’t always been done).
As I watched the mechanic below on the screen, he finished up by not only cleaning off any oil that might be hanging onto the bottom of the pan, he hosed off the underside of the engine to ensure everything was squeaky clean and there wouldn’t be any drips later on my garage floor.
After the job was done, I was handed a list of service requirements for my specific vehicle so I would know when to come back, something that benefits both the business and me. Then I was given a full report on the level and condition of all the vehicle fluids, including a sample taken from them and placed on a card so I could see what they were like compared to what they should be like.
When I was handed the credit card reader, there was an option for me to tip the service staff, just like in a restaurant. It’s the first time I’ve ever been asked if I wanted to tip a grease monkey—and I don’t use that term in a negative way, because the staff at this outlet were much more than that name implies. They were doing the work long associated with that term, but they clearly elevated it to a very professional level. And they earned a tip.
A week later someone from the business phoned me at home to ask if I was happy with the service. Pretty impressive for a $60 oil change. I can recall buying a brand new front-end loader tractor and not getting a follow-up phone call to see if I was happy with it.
That experience of how a simple oil change could be elevated to such a pleasant experience clearly demonstrated that any business can stand out by focusing on customer service, and there are benefits to be had from it.
Farming is no exception. It may seem like all farm-gate products are essentially the same, and selling grain is just a matter of locking in at the right price. But there is good reason to want your operation to stand out. Your willingness to work with a buyer and make his life easier could pay off. When there are premiums to be paid or other benefits available, you want your buyers to think of you first.
Think of it as incentive for them to add something to the tip screen on your credit cart reader.