I read a book years ago titled, "The Simple Truths of Service." (see here.) In a portion of this book it tells the story of Johnny the bagger. (Click here for the full Johnny the bagger story.) Johnny went out of his way to make every customer feel like they were important. Consequently, people wanted Johnny to be their bagger, even if it meant waiting in a longer line for a longer time. In most people's lives, time equals money. These people were willing to pay more (time) for better customer service.
I was reminded of this story because of an experience that I had last week. I wanted to rent a sod cutter for some yard work I was doing. My wife called some of the rental companies in the Bountiful area asking prices. When she called South Davis Rental she was told that the overnight charge was a two-hour minimum. This meant if you used the cutter for less than the two hours, you'd be charged for the two hours. If you used the cutter for more than two hours, you'd be charged the actual hours used. That was the lowest price and so she reserved a machine for us to pick up on Friday evening.
Come to find out, the "standard" for their overnight is a three hour minimum. To their credit, South Davis Rental did only charge the quoted price, however, they made us feel crappy for trying to hold them to what they quoted. They said things like "Overnight rental has always been three hour minimum." and "Man, these guys are killing me." I think it's important to note here that I picked up the sod cutter at 5 p.m. on Friday and returned it shortly after 8 a.m. on Saturday. When I picked the cutter up, it had 21.3 hours on the clock and when I returned it there were 21.9 hours on the clock. I used the machine for 36 minutes! When I left South Davis Rental on Friday there were several sod cutter machines available. Not all the sod cutter machines got rented and kept overnight Friday. There were still some sod cutters there when I returned the machine on Saturday morning. South Davis Rental did not lose the capability to rent a sod cutter because I had one overnight Friday. What they did lose is my satisfaction with them as a rental company. They also potentially lost future business from me and my family members. When I need to rent equipment in the future, I will pay a few bucks more to rent from elsewhere before going to South Davis Rental based on the experience I had there. South Davis Rental is also a U-haul rental location. Needless to say, I won't go there to rent U-haul equipment either.
The people who run and work at South Davis Rental could learn a lot about customer service. You can treat customers any way you want, but, really successful companies treat customers in a way that makes them want to come back.