Small gestures. Big impact.

Listen to your customers. Make small changes in line with feedback. And reap the benefits long term.

Claire Sim
By Claire Sim
  • 28 March 2018
  • Reading time: 6 minutes
Small gestures. Big impact.

Remember the Sainsbury’s ‘Giraffe bread’ letter from a few years ago? One of the supermarket’s younger customers wrote to the chain to point out (in an incredibly cute piece of correspondence) that their tiger bread had more in common with giraffes – and didn’t that merit a name change? In a moment of genius, someone in the customer service department saw their chance and replied. Lo and behold, Sainsbury’s became the first supermarket to offer the more accurately named Giraffe bread and could now boast a priceless example of customer service as their own. All for a fraction of the price of a fancy marketing campaign.

We love this story. For us it encapsulates a hugely important message about customer service. Not only did it make one young girl’s day (and probably earn a lifelong customer), it also proved the supermarket understood how to listen to its customers with a simple, yet human gesture. The whole thing felt natural, genuinely spontaneous and refreshing. We can imagine that there were probably a few of Sainsbury’s competitors who were kicking themselves for letting their own opportunities like this pass by!

Aren’t we sometimes guilty of thinking up our answer before we properly listen to what the other person is saying? And, aren’t many organisations even more bullish than that about what they offer? Sadly, we’ve seen the demise of examples like Toys R Us, which just wasn’t listening to its customers.

Good customer service is about getting that ‘cherry on top’ – the unexpected gestures that go beyond the bare bones of the basic transaction that’s taking place. Taking the time to listen, really listen, can make all the difference to how your customers perceive you. American self-help author Napoleon Hill wrote about how; ‘People buy personalities and ideas much more quickly than they buy merchandise.’ This is certainly an idea that’s backed up by the enduring effectiveness of the handwritten note – a little extra that we use ourselves. Personal, simple, considerate... and they only take a minute to write!

Or if you’re going for that not-so-little extra with a bit more wow-factor, why not show your appreciation to your clients with piece of branded merchandise? Something that shows you really know them. Maybe they’re big on golf and could do with some new kit for out on the greens. Or perhaps get them a guidebook for that holiday they’ve been talking about, for example. Whenever we have a meeting with a prospective client we like to do our homework and choose a leave-behind specifically for them. In these instances, we find that, again, it’s not just the gift alone that matters, it’s the thought and consideration that’s been put into it too.

Giving your clients a good service experience isn’t about moving heaven and earth. Nor is it about bankrupting yourself in desperation to please every single person who walks through the door. It’s about sensing those opportunities where you can add value by showing the client-supplier relationship boils down to more than simply a transaction. In other words, small gestures add up to big impacts. 

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