Tuesday, November 3, 2009

how good is your personal service?

I'm really not that green, but about two years ago I went out and purchased a scooter.The scooter wasn't really anything special; it was shiny and red and ran adequately without using too much gas.I used it quite a bit the first year and quite a bit less the second year, and here it is November 1 and my little scooter is in storage for the winter. The Milwaukee winter.

But let me take you back to my experience of buying this scooter.

My day-to-day travels in Milwaukee take me down Water Street frequently. Along the curve where Water Street turns into Brady Street, there's a little store called MotoScoot. If you know the curve you may know the store.

Prior to purchasing my scooter, I passed the store many times and would see employees and potential customers milling about outside looking at their future methods of transportation. So after I convinced my wife that a scooter was a reasonable thing to own, I had a good idea where I was going to make this purchase. I showed up unannounced one quiet, summer afternoon and was greeted by a friendly but busy store owner. He certainly seemed to be juggling quite a few balls and, from the looks of it, he was keeping all of them up in the air. He identified me as a potential sale and did, indeed, spend some time letting me know why his was the store from which I should purchase my scooter.

Personal service was his motto: he stressed this and tried to convince me that personal service was the best service. In hindsight, I should have been more quizzical about what he exactly meant by personal service. I had no doubt that he was sincere in his offer of the aforementioned service, but shortly, and after the sale was finalized, it did seem clear that, as far as I was concerned, his personal service was a pipe dream. Now I'm not saying that he did anything illegal or even immoral, but my hopes were that personal service might actually have some sort of follow-up to it. In the two years since I've owned my scooter I've not had a single call asking me how my scooter was operating or if I needed anything to make my scooter riding safer or more enjoyable.

The one thing that my wife will tell you is that I'm a big mouth. I often exceed an acceptable decibel range. But I also let people know what I'm thinking about stores and service providers; both positive and negative. I've been known to take up pen and paper to let a restaurant owner know exactly what I thought of their service. I'm also quite vocal with my friends and associates about wonderful food experiences or if a auto dealership has let me down. As an aside, Acura of Brookfield has always treated me wonderfully and I often use them as the gold standard as to how to treat customers. My point of all this is: treat me well am going to tell people about; treat me poorly and I'm going to tell even more people about it.

So what does personal service mean to the people at MotoScoot? I'm not sure, but to me it certainly doesn't mean good service.

But more importantly, in this economic time, good service is good for business. If the storeowner had followed up with me after the sale, I would've had a much warmer feeling about him and his store and when it came time to put some money into my scooter, he would have been a shoe-in to get my business. But now he has let that relationship degrade and I feel absolutely no personal loyalty toward him or his organization. Earlier last month, I noticed a new scooter store in Riverwest. It's more convenient for me anyway and I have no negative feelings toward them like I do with the other business so when it comes time to fix my light or get a tune up, I'll probably send my business their way.

It strikes me as being very Darwinian at its core but that's okay. Perhaps, companies that don't know how to support their customers should go away.

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