CUSTOMER SERVICE

How a Really Small Change Makes People Really Happy

Want more customers? Do little things for them.
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It's the most basic question in business: "How do I get more customers?"

Figuring out what drives peoples' decisions to work with you or buy from you can be a crucial, fascinating, and sometimes frustrating exercise. Think about your own consumer behavior. Often, you might go back to the same business--or not--for reasons that aren't 100 percent logical.

The food at this restaurant isn't the best, but it's where I met my wife.

This vendor's product isn't perfect, but the account executive assigned to us treats us really well.

This dry cleaner does great work usually, but I don't go anymore because the man who used to work behind the counter snapped at me once.

That's why a video that author/founder/investor Peter Shankman recently posted struck home with me.

In it, he and a fellow passenger, RJon Robins, are riding to the San Francisco airport in a car from Uber. Shankman is pretty darn excited to find that the driver (whose name is Trevor) has done something very small and unexpected. He's set up chargers for Android phones and iPhones and draped the cords into his car's backseat for customers to use.

"Trevor over here took maybe $10 out of his pocket and bought these two things," Shankman, who runs a consulting firm focusing on customer service, says with excitement. "What does that guarantee? (a) It guarantees that my device is going to be charged when I get to the airport, and (b) it guarantees this guy a 5-star review every single time."

There are lots of ways to get to and from the airport, lots of cabs and car services, and lots of individual drivers using those services. Nine times out of 10, rides on services like Uber and Lyft are probably not all that memorable. By taking just a few minutes to think about his customers' problems and solve one of them, however, Trevor the Driver got what can only be described as an exponential return on his effort.

(Trevor as well says in the video that he has an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars on review sites, which Shankman seems convinced is due at least in part to the chargers.)

A lot of articles these days will suggest that there are simple, magic solutions to many problems--in your business or your life. Maybe there really are.

Of course, I don't know who you are, what your business is, or who your customers are. It's kind of tough for me to suggest specific small changes that might make your customers happier. However, I'll bet there's something easy you could do to improve their experience and that it might be only tangentially related to your core product or service.

When it comes to making an impression, often the littlest things can have the most impact.

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IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Mar 12, 2014

BILL MURPHY JR. | Columnist

Bill Murphy Jr. is a journalist, ghostwriter, and entrepreneur. He is the author of Breakthrough Entrepreneurship (with Jon Burgstone) and is a former reporter for The Washington Post.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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