Do you want to know how to earn a customer's love?
Let me tell you how a coffee equipment company earned mine.
My fancy espresso machine stopped working a few weeks ago.
That's a big problem for me: my wife and I have four young kids and drink a lot of coffee.
(How much is a lot? Since we bought the machine in June 2015, it's produced 16,722 beverages: that's an average of 6.7 drinks every single day for the past seven years. And if you're wondering, the machine connects via Bluetooth to an app on my smartphone and records the machine's coffee statistics, which is how I have an exact number. As I said, fancy.)
But after seven years of producing so many beverages, the grinder suddenly stopped recognizing there were beans in the hopper and would produce an error message instead of an espresso. Not good.
I knew it was unlikely that the machine was still under warranty, and figured I'd need to pay someone to repair it. So I packed up the machine and took it back to the place I bought it: Anthony's Espresso Equipment, in Woodbridge, Ontario.
When I dropped it off, I was told it would be $60 for them just to look at it, and that there was a three-week waiting list before they could even do that. I begrudgingly accepted these terms because I really wanted my coffee machine to be fixed, but made a note in my calendar to follow up in three weeks.
Over the next three weeks, my wife and I visited Starbucks far too often and settled for using one of our inferior backup coffee machines when we didn't feel like leaving the house.*
But exactly 22 days after I dropped off my coffee maker, I was on the phone with Anthony's asking for an update.
The gentleman I spoke with had a very heavy accent, and I had trouble understanding what he was trying to tell me. But what I understood was that my machine's brew group was failing and I'd need a new machine. I began to express my frustration with that response ("But I don't want to buy a new machine, I only wanted you to fix the grinder..."), but the gentleman told me "the woman from the office will call you tomorrow."
And sure enough, the next day, I got a call from Linda.
Linda was able to clarify what her colleague had said the day before. While the team was examining the machine, they discovered not only that the grinder was broken (which I knew about), but also that the brew group unit was close to failure and would need to be replaced soon. Unfortunately for me, my machine had been discontinued, and the parts they needed to fix it were no longer available... so Linda was trying to get me a new machine.
"Wait..." I said, "What? You're trying to get me a new machine? Like... for free?"
"Yes, that's what we're trying to do," she replied. "We've contacted the company, and we're waiting to hear back from them. Call me next Friday... I should have an update by then."
So next Friday I called Linda, and she told me that Saeco would be providing me with a brand new Saeco Xelsis espresso machine.
I don't know how Linda was able to manage this.
Perhaps our warranty was still in effect, or it wasn't but Saeco has an extremely generous return policy. Or maybe Anthony's service team discovered a flaw in the machine that caused its failure, and Linda used that discovery to negotiate a replacement for me. Perhaps Anthony's has some sort of insurance that covers situations like this, or maybe they just maintain stellar relationships with their equipment suppliers and decided to call in a favour.
I really don't know how Linda was able to manage this.
And honestly, I don't care.
What I care about is that I brought my machine to Anthony's expecting it to be repaired.
And while Anthony's could have used the fact that my machine was dead-on-arrival to try and sell me a new (very expensive) espresso machine, they didn't even try to do that.
Instead, one of the company's employees spent time and effort calling the manufacturer on my behalf and convincing them a replacement machine was warranted.
And this happened without me even having to suggest it.
As a result of Anthony's efforts, my wife and I received a brand new espresso machine that's comparable in almost every way to the machine we purchased seven years earlier...
... and all it cost us was a $60 repair fee.
Anthony's Espresso Equipment was great to deal with when I bought my machine, but they exceeded all of my expectations when it really mattered to me. And in doing so, they've practically guaranteed I'll never buy another espresso machine anywhere else.
Do you want to know how to earn a customer's love?
Understand what they want from you... then deliver more than they expected.
Sure, that's easier said than done.
But if a small business like Anthony's Espresso Equipment can do it, you can too.
* Our espresso machine is our primary coffee maker not only because it produces high-quality coffee, but also because it makes the widest variety of coffee beverages with the least amount of clean-up. But it isn't the only coffee machine in our home: we also have a Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker, two coffee brewers, three french presses, one Bialetti caffettiera, and one Vietnamese Coffee Filter. Like I said, my wife and I drink a lot of coffee.
P.S. While I realize this post may have read like a paid promotion, I assure you, it isn't. Anthony's Espresso Equipment did not ask me to write this post or compensate me for doing so; I'm not even sure they'll ever see it. I was simply genuinely impressed with how this company handled this situation, and believe they can serve as a wonderful case study for any organization that might consider "customer satisfaction" a cost instead of an investment.