A great story from Ron Burley in Inc. Magazine about how going above and beyond for one customer turned into a $4 million sale.
So when my cell phone vibrated at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I recognized the 618 area as Southern Illinois. That meant the caller was Bob, a crusty old-time radio engineer and owner of a very small rural radio station near Mt. Vernon. He’d purchased one of our systems several months before and had been struggling to get it up and running.
Bob’s biggest problem was that he’d never even used a computer before. My support manager more than once had recommended that we just refund Bob’s money. But we’d marketed our products as easy to use, so we couldn’t abandon someone because they’d found otherwise.
I climbed out of bed, closed the door behind me, and spent the next two hours coaching Bob on how to configure the start-up options for Microsoft Windows. It wasn’t an issue with our software, but it was a problem for our customer, Bob–which made it our problem. At the end of the conversation, I thought we’d made a lot of progress. Bob was enthusiastic. I was hopeful.
That was the last anyone heard from Bob. He didn’t call tech support. He didn’t call me. As time passed, I wondered whether we’d actually fixed the problem or whether he’d just given up. I made a mental note to check in on him as soon as I’d figured out the bigger financial issues.
One situation was about to solve the other. Almost six months to the day after I’d hung up the phone with Bob, I received another call. The chief of engineering of a major media company informed me the company had decided to standardize on our software across its entire chain of more than 300 radio stations. It would be the biggest order in our history–more than $4 million–and would easily provide the capital we’d been needing…
There’s a moral to the story: Every customer needs to be treated with respect, and no customer should be left dissatisfied. I’m not saying that every customer call is crucially important. But some of them certainly are–and you never know which one might be your “Bob.”