After all of these years in this industry, I am still more than a little impressed that consumers pay to be a part of our service company clubs. “Partner Plans," “Elite Members,” “Maintenance Agreement Customers” — no matter what you call these contracts, the customers are paying you for a certain level of service. But I have a question: Can you say with all certainty that your club customers are treated across-the-board better than everyone else who uses your company?

I ask this because all too often I see these impressive programs across the country in which companies promise incredible service to get consumers to join. Then once they are in, they are treated just like everyone else, or sometimes worse. What I want you to think about are the promises you make and what you actually deliver. If those two things don’t line up it, might be time for a change. I’ll give you an example.

I was working with a company that had great success selling memberships. In fact, it was almost too good. The employees found they couldn’t reschedule a club member for a simple maintenance tune-up, even though the company’s promotional material promised “priority service.” This meant that most of the time the company was rescheduling, the customer felt cheated. After looking at the problem, we decided to change the wording and the way that everyone sold the program.

Now the marketing materials for the club all say “priority emergency service.” When employees are talking with consumers about the club, they tell them, “If I have a day filled with emergency calls and you call in with a down unit, you move to the head of the line.” This helps define the special treatment for the customer and has also helped them reschedule nonemergency maintenance visits.

There should be some rules around the rescheduling as well. If you move the customer once, it should be the last time, and the trick to that is not to automatically reschedule for the next day. Once it has been bumped once, the customer’s call — no matter what it is — should move up in priority. These people pay to be members of our companies and we need to treat them like the special commodity they are.