Mazzuca: Service you don’t forget
My introduction to customer service originated in a family-run retail business on Chicago’s west side. Later, when I entered the business world, I discovered that many of the principles of success that guided our family’s grocery business were equally applicable to my chosen field of commercial insurance.
As the CEO of a large insurance brokerage, we followed two maxims: First, the customer defines quality, and second, of quality, service and price the customer expects at least two.
We always endeavored to remain competitive, but there were times when pricing was simply out of our control. However, what remained within our control was the ability and willingness to deliver quality products and walk-the-extra-mile service.
Insurance industry statistics indicated that the “average” commercial insurance brokerage loses approximately 12 percent to 15 percent of its client base every year. However, we felt that type of client turnover was unacceptable so we contracted with San Jose State University and the Quality Institute in Minneapolis and developed our own quality program.
The results were outstanding and during the first three years of our program’s existence we did not lose a single client to competition. Our secret? That’s easy, since the customer defines quality, we simply determined what our customers really wanted and then delivered it.
Our clients told us that responsiveness, clear communication, a strong desire to understand their needs and reliability were what they wanted. We learned quickly that when we delivered on those four aspects of the business, price became a secondary consideration.
While every business has its nuances, I suspect the aforementioned would work well for any business. So, with the shoulder season in full-swing and the Daily’s readership consisting primarily of locals, I thought I would take the time to fete a baker’s dozen of the more customer-oriented businesses in the valley.
1. Ruggs Benedict. Rugs, tile, carpet, countertops, hardwood floors; normally I would be reluctant to leave town in the middle of refurbishing project, but Iveta Knox (sales) and Alphonso (installation manager) put my fears to rest with their excellent coordination of the project in my stead. What particularly impressed me was Iveta’s and Alphonso’s follow-through and communication.
2. Big Horn Toyota in Glenwood. I know the dealership isn’t in the Eagle Valley, but its close enough to warrant mention here. On two separate occasions, knowing that I had to drive from Edwards, Don Nisbett, Big Horn’s Service Manager saw me drive onto the lot, walked outside to greet me, made the minor repairs and sent me on my way within 15 minutes.
3. Kimberley’s Jewelry in Edwards. Space doesn’t allow me to detail their walk-the-extra-mile attitude, but believe me it exists.
4. Mike Mansfield (electrician). With a number of electrical issues facing us in our recently purchased home, Mike Mansfield was proactive and continued tweaking until each issue was resolved.
5. Thul Electronics. A real estate client of mine was in town for only a day and needed a consultation with an audio-video expert. It was late in the afternoon and on a weekend; nevertheless, Thul responded and one of their technicians called me to say he was available whenever my client needed him.
6. Therapy Masters. I know a pro when I see one, and physical therapist Neil Masters fits that description perfectly.
7. Mark Stelle (Forestry Consultant). Over the years I’ve worked with quite a few tree services. Each brought something to the table. However, Mark is hands-down, bar-none the most knowledgeable I’ve ever worked with.
8. Plath Construction. When we began having problems with a recently installed roof, Alberto Ortega and his right hand man, Jose, of Plath Construction are who we called when the roofer could not rectify the problem. Problem solved.
9. Aaron Thompson, endodontist/Shelly Raichart, dentist. I’m not qualified to assess medical professionals, but I can attest to the patient-focused attitudes on the part of each of their staffs.
10. Kinetico in Eagle. Whether installing water filters or softeners, I couldn’t be happier with the workmanship and responsiveness of John and his assistant.
11. Master Sealers. Due to prior commitments, Mike Boyd, the owner ,was unable to address a need we had; however, he offered to complete an inspection and make recommendations free of charge. One can’t go wrong with an attitude like that.
12. Lulu Gallegos House Cleaning. Lulu doesn’t advertise, so I’ll put her number here (926-2178). She’s reliable, thorough and speedy.
13. Shady Deals. When in need of a window covering for my self or a client, Jay Townsend (owner) is the man.
To each of you, thank you for your attitudes and excellent service.
Quote of the day: “Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade?” ” Benjamin Franklin
Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.