Pay attention — I am probably a lot like one of your customers. It was a nice, relaxing Sunday afternoon, and I was enjoying a cigar on my deck as the wife and kids were off visiting her family. … Believe me, this is best for everybody.

When I finally got around to being productive and cutting the lawn, I noticed my garage door was broken. Now, I am not a handy guy, so, after hitting the opener a few times and attempting to pull it up manually after pulling the release lock, I found myself plum out of ideas.

My car was in the garage, and I couldn’t get it out. After a few choice words, I realized I needed professional help.

Now, remember, it is a Sunday. The first company I called had an automated service that suggested I leave my name and number, and they promised a call back on Monday. Not ideal, but I left my number in case I struck out at the other places. The second call had an automated voice telling me I am next in line to have my call answered. After remaining on hold for 30 minutes, I figured there couldn’t be this many garage door emergencies in my vicinity, so there must be something wrong with the system. I hung up.

The third call landed me a real person. I explained the situation and he seemed to think it could be an easy fix, but he needed to come out and look at it. He gave me the option of coming out that night at a higher cost or putting me on the schedule for first thing Monday morning. I chose the latter, and my garage door was scheduled to be fixed at 9 a.m. the next morning. More importantly, I slept well Sunday night knowing the issue would be taken care of, and I could still get to work at a decent hour. When all was said and done, my total bill was only $60. While I’m not sure this company is making much money, the lecture about pricing can be saved for another column.

Substitute garage door with furnace or air conditioner, and we are talking about your customers. There is a new type of customer out there, and he or she has no patience to wait for you. You can attribute it to our busy lives, smartphones, or a hundred other reasons, but that is not really the issue. The issue is that you now need to play in that world.

A recent study by Microsoft found the human attention span has fallen to eight seconds. To put that in perspective, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. So, basically, at this point, a goldfish can hold a thought for a longer period of time than your average customer. Do you still think they are going to wait until Monday to call you back?

It’s obviously good for business, but, according to Gary Marowske, president, Flame Furnace, Warren, Michigan, it is simply “the right thing to do for the public.” For about the last eight years, Flame Furnace has been open 24/7/365. Of course, after-hours calls have a higher diagnostic fee, but when people are without heat during a Michigan winter, they are not complaining about a slightly higher cost. It takes dedicating some extra time to logistics, but, oftentimes, you’ll gain a customer for life. Do you think it helps close a sale when the salesman informs the customer he or she can call at any time on any day and the company will fix the problem?

In today’s world of fast-paced lifestyles and homes where both partners are working, today’s customer expect a different type of service company. Make sure you are willing to meet those needs.

Publication date: 5/25/2015 

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