How do we know a business is successful? Well, longevity is at least one indicator. I was reminded of this when our editor produced a copy of the 60-year old, 47-page booklet entitled “The Leaside Story,” published in celebration of Leaside’s 45th anniversary. Think Perry White, the tough, irascible, cigar-chomping editor for DC Comics’ fictional Daily Planet slamming down a copy on my desk. Actually, our editor is quite the opposite and no cigar, just as motivated and tough though, and rather than ‘slammed’ she emailed me a PDF (one can romanticize the joy of writing for fun, right?). As interesting and sentimental as The Leaside Story was conveyed (including traffic and safety woes of the time), the single thing that jumped out at me was the list of advertisers. Yes, several Leaside firms that have stood the test of time, including stalwarts Apco Industries over on Industrial St. and Lincoln Electric on Wicksteed Ave., but also consumer businesses like Aireon TV, were all serving customers back in 1958 just as they do today.
Customer service: a “moment of truth”
Leasiders like to reminisce. I hear it in our day-to-day discussions, and I see it reflected in the online discussion groups.…Yes, the good old days. But beyond simply offering products and services that meet our needs, what makes a business stand the test of time is excellent customer service. That is what ensures long-term success. We all know good customer service when we experience it, both before and after we purchase a product or service. My managing partner refers to this as the “WOW moment,”; McKinsey calls it “the moment of truth.” Firms delivering great customer service are those with a loyal customer following and winning new business at a faster rate. When done right, smart managers and owners know full well that high levels of customer satisfaction are profitable in the long term. In our connected world, customer service comes in many formats: email, web, text message, social media as well as self-service support, so customers can find their own answers at any time, day or night. As convenient as all this has become, I still appreciate the right kind of service call or attention to detail that only a real human being can potentially provide.
I took the opportunity to speak with Les Verbovszky, the owner of Aireon TV, at Moore & Bayview. Les purchased the business in 1974 from the original founder’s son, George Macey, and is proud to be serving the third generation of families in Leaside. The secret to Aireon’s longevity is adapting to technological change and delivering personalized customer service. At the other end of the last 60 years is the new F5 Shop on Bayview. After reading about their customer service kudos online and experiencing the service firsthand when our son’s iPhone screen needed replacing, I reached out to owner Fahad Tarani to get his take on customer service. Not surprising, Fahad has decided to build his business by embracing the long-term approach to customer relationships. He eschews the “quick buck” and has demonstrated that he is willing to direct potential “business” to alternative solutions when he determines it is in the best interest of his customers.
Let’s all try to catch people doing something right
What will be the brands we frequent today in Leaside that will stand the test of time? In 60 years, what businesses will we be writing about? The incentives are there for businesses to deliver good service. But what can we as customers do to ensure we all receive a level of service that consistently exceeds expectation? Borrowing a strategy from Ken Blanchard of “The One Minute Manager” fame – we can begin by catching people doing something right. “People who feel good about themselves produce good results, and people who produce good results feel good about themselves.” Oftentimes we are quick to criticize and point out shortcomings in person or on social media after the fact. If we were all to focus on letting others know when they’ve done something right, we could reinforce positive behaviours.
So, just where did I meet the escort in Leaside who made my day? I was at Longo’s on a day where the rain just would not stop. I stepped outside ready to make a quick break for the car. A young gentleman popped out of nowhere with a huge umbrella and asked, “Sir, can I escort you to your car?” With an equally huge smile I gratefully accepted. And now I am giving Longo’s and that young man a shoutout because I want to catch people doing things right.
Have you had a customer service experience in Leaside that exceeded your expectations? Do you take the time to catch people doing something right? What businesses in Leaside do you think will stand the test of time? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.