When I lived in England, I used to do a 60 mile (100km) round trip to visit my butcher. Within a 5 mile radius, there were major Supermarkets and other larger butchers but I would never consider “churning” from my butcher, Billy Baxter. He is a great example of CRM done well.
Billy ran a small Butchery having previously been a butcher at Harrods. It must have been there that he learnt the art of true Customer Management because this guy is a genius. Let me give you 5 reasons why I was a loyal customer and then I challenge you to think about whether this applies to your organisation, role or client:
1. Product. Billy was a stickler for ensuring that he had the best product around. That did not mean that it was the most expensive. He just knew so much about the meat trade that he knew what to buy, who to buy it from and the best price to pay. More than often, he passed on savings to his customers. He stocks a range of products that suits most tastes, ranges from premium to regular products (although always high quality)and never compromised on freshness. Anything that didn’t meet his high standard wasn’t sold.
2. Personal Customer Service. He knew everyone by their first name, knew their preferences, where they lived, who they were related to and what major events were occuring in their lives. He did not have a CRM system to do this. He had a small Cardex to help his memory but I only know this as I once spotted him flicking through it in his back office! He made it his business to get to know everyone and this attention combined with a very amiable disposition made him extremely likeable and created loyalty.
3. Always put customer first. Christmas is a very busy time for Billy. He is often known to work for three days consecutively grabbing the odd hour of sleep. He did this to continue offering a personal service. To his older customers, he delivered to their door at a time to suit them. He carried orders to customers cars. He inspected every meat tray and ensured that you always got a little more than you asked for. He always sought to delight customers. One Christmas, we collected our order and noticed a haunch of venison on the tray. We pointed out that we hadn’t ordered it and queried whether it might be someone else’s order. Billy remembered that we had liked Venison and said it was a “Thank You” for our business and that he had received a particularly good cut that he knew we would appreciate! He was right. It was unforgettable. Maybe Billy made less profit on that transaction but he retained our “profitable” business for years.
4. The Best form of Marketing. Billy had low marketing costs. Billy didn’t advertise. He didn’t even have a sign outside his shop. In fact, I had driven past it a few times without realising what it was. This is because Billy didn’t need to. He had enough loyal customers to be able to satisfy a much larger operation but Billy was not ambitious. He was happy to continue servicing his loyal customers and being a valued part of the community. It was “Word Of Mouth” that helped Billy’s business thrive. We all know that a poor customer experience is shared (on average) 10 times. Similarly, a good customer experience is shared (on average) 8 times. This means that the average customer tells 8 others how great Billy’s Butchers is and why they should shop there. That is how we got to hear about it and we have told numerous others who also shop there. Indeed, this article might also generate more business for him if you live near Salisbury in Wiltshire: http://uktv.co.uk/food/outlet/aid/621185
5. Listen to the customer. Billy knew that many customers did not want to see the knifes or the blood. He did his preparation out of sight. This was because he had listened to what his customers told him. Some liked to see the meat before they bought it. He knew those who needed to know and he delighted in explaining the various cuts and to find out your preferences. He found out we liked Ostrich. He rang us one day to tell us that he had secured just the right cut that we liked. We said we would come over within the week. A few days later, he rang to say that he would drive to us and deliver it as he wanted us to experience it as fresh as could be. He didn’t charge for the delivery as he knew we would like it so much that we would buy in bulk once we tried it. We did. I’m sure he would have driven to us even if we hadn’t ordered. He just delighted in keeping his customers happy and getting to know them. We invited him in for a coffee and he then learnt that we cooked on an Aga cooker. Next time we were in, he had dug out an old recipe for “Lamb in Hay”, a Victorian dish, that he said would be excellent in our Aga. Opportunistic? Maybe- but it met our needs and benefitted Billy (in the sale of the Lamb) and us (in discovering a wonderful new dish to cook in our Aga).
So what can we conclude? Billy runs a profitable, thriving local business that is built on customer loyalty. He doesn’t require complicated systems or processes. It is just good old fashioned customer service. It may not apply to big business or many different industries or models. But the principles are founded in “best practice” throughout the entire history of commerce and can still bring us back to ensuring that the basics are always in place on the journey to customer centricity.