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3 powerful client-retention lessons a blowout on the motorway can teach us

Imagine you’re driving along the motorway eager to get home after being held up in a queue because of a traffic accident. Just as you overtake a slow-moving lorry, you hear a bang from the rear of your car, causing you to look at the car’s information centre for clues as to what it could be.

A few seconds later you tell yourself it’s nothing and turn your attention back to your journey, breathing a sigh of relief that you won’t be delayed any further. But, just as that thought passes through your mind, the information centre springs into life and alerts you to a flat rear tyre.

Cursing, you move over to the hard shoulder.

“How much worse can this journey get?” you ask yourself.

This is how I ended up spending a recent Tuesday evening, little knowing my flat tyre was about to escalate into a motoring headache that would also be a great lesson about client care.

So, read on to discover what this motorway blow-out can teach us about going the extra mile for clients, and why it’s good for business.

Changing the tyre myself wasn’t an option, so I needed to help

While normally I would have changed the tyre with little thought, a DIY incident the week before had resulted in several stitches and a heavily bandaged hand. They say things happen in threes, and within the next 10 minutes, another nasty surprise would complete the trio.

Deciding that I didn’t want to risk damaging my hand further, I called the national breakdown service I belonged to so that they could change my tyre. After taking my membership number the customer service representative delivered some unwanted news.

My membership had lapsed just 10 days earlier which, as the representative explained, meant they could not help despite me being a loyal member for nearly a decade. Even when I explained my predicament and offered to pay a premium to re-join on the roadside, I was told it would not be possible and the service centre politely terminated the call.

Things happen in threes – but you won’t believe what happened next!

While you may have thought this was the third disaster, sadly it wasn’t. After realising I was going to have to change the tyre, I got the car’s jack, wheel brace and locking nut out of the boot.

I then put the locking nut on the relevant bolt to loosen it, at which point disaster number three happened: the locking wheel nut snapped. This meant I could not undo the bolt and therefore could not change the wheel.

Thinking that all the other breakdown services would have the same attitude, I called a friend who is a mechanic to see if he knew anyone with a breakdown recovery lorry who could help.

It was during my conversation with him I discovered that there were breakdown services that would let stranded motorists join by the roadside. He recommended the organisation he belongs to.

I immediately called them and, sure enough, joined there and then. Within an hour and a half, a collection truck arrived and took me and my car to a garage close to my home, and two days later my car was returned with a new tyre and new locking nut.

So, what three important lessons does this experience provide?

  1. Failing to help people when they need it most could cost you dear

Let’s be blunt, allowing the membership of my original breakdown service to lapse is my fault. I could blame it on the holiday I was on at the time it lapsed or the fact it was a busy period in my home life, but ultimately it was down to me.

That said, I’d been a member of the organisation for several years, had always renewed on time and only called them out once before. Refusing to help me for the sake of 10 days left me feeling very let down.

It’s said a good reputation takes a long time to build but no time to lose, and the reason for this is typically word of mouth.

So, it will come as no surprise to learn that sharing my story with many friends could have some negative implications for my old breakdown service. While no one I’ve shared it with has left, the chances of them doing it when it’s time to renew have greatly increased.

Always remember that not going the extra mile could result in people talking about your services for all the wrong reasons, which could result in existing and potential clients going to the competition.

  1. Going above and beyond means you’ll stand out

Telling my story puts my new breakdown service provider in a very positive light. It shows how they’re prepared to go above and beyond when others won’t, which always makes a good impression.

It tells potential clients that they can rely on you to be there when they need you to be, which of course makes your business stand head and shoulders above the competition.

With so much competition nowadays, standing out for all the right reasons can be difficult, however, going above and beyond when you don’t need to is a great way to do it.

  1. Being an organisation that can be relied on will bring client loyalty

By providing help when I desperately needed it means I’m likely to remain a member for many years to come. As a loyal customer, I’m not only more likely to stay with them, I’m also more likely to be forgiving if a mistake is made.

Besides this, I have recommended my new breakdown service provider to all my friends and family. Recommendations not only means your business will grow. It will do so thanks to a network of clients who believe in your organisation, and therefore will be enthusiastic ambassadors for you both now and in the future.

So, what did my blow-out on the M1 teach me? If you do your very best to help those in need, especially when you don’t need to, your reputation and business will go from strength to strength.

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