The late chaplain of the United States Senate, Peter Marshall, used to tell a story titled The Keeper of the Spring. The story is about a man who lived in a forest in the eastern Alps overlooking an Austrian village. This old man had been hired years ago by a wise town council to make sure the mountain waters flowed freely into the wonderful spring which flowed into the quaint village.
The old man faithfully year after year removed leaves, twigs, and everything that could contaminate or clog the flowing water. As a result, the village spring was an attraction for vacationers and swans alike. The village was peaceful, happy, and blessed.
One night, years later, another town council began talking about the almost mythical keeper of the spring. They wondered, Why are we paying this man? Does anyone ever see him? This money could be used for better purposes. As a result, you can imagine what they did. They decided to terminate the services of the old man.
For a while, everything stayed the same. The spring was beautiful and the village blossomed. But then came autumn, and the trees began to loose their grip on their leaves. Twigs and branches broke off the trees and fell into the streams grip.
One day, someone noticed something different about their wonderful spring. It was changing to a different color. Soon a haze came over parts of the spring and a sickening smell began to hover around it. The vacationers left the lovely village. The swans decided to look for a new home.
The town council called an emergency meeting. They realized what a terrible mistake they had made by firing the old man of the forest. They immediately hired him back. The old man got to work and performed the miracle again. Within a few weeks, the life-giving water was flowing freely and surely to the village spring. Soon all was normal, healthy, and blessed.
Now, you might be thinking, This is kind of an odd way to start this section of the book. It is a cute story but what does it have to do with me and my business? My answer to that question is everything. You see, you, your team, and your business are the village spring. Your customers are the mountain waters. The truth of the matter is that if you don’t take care of your mountain waters, it will put a strangle hold on your village spring. It will sicken, smell, and if something is not done to reverse the process it will eventually die.
Right here at the very beginning of this section, I want you to think about your mountain waters. Are they loyal to you or do they see business in your industry (including you) as a dime a dozen? In fact, let me ask you a couple of hard questions. What would you do if overnight you lost 25% of your customers? Even more important, what are you going to do today to keep them loyal? Tough questions. But if you dont have answers to those two questions, then you have a big problem.
But before some of you panic, dont worry. That is why I have written this section of the book. And that is why Customer Service is one of The 3 Pillars of Success. I am going to give you answers to those two questions. Answers that not only work but can prosper your organization tremendously. We are first going to put the lid on your village spring. In other words, I am going to help you get rid of satisfied customers and turn them into loyal customers.
Satisfied customers are worthless. They stay just long enough until the next big thing comes to town. Lets say that your customer lives ten miles from your office and one of your competitors moves in just one mile away from your customers home. Guess what happens? If they are satisfied, they are not your customer anymore. If they are loyal, they are not going to jump ship. They wouldnt move for anything.
I am a patient of Juszczyk Chiropractic in Lebanon, Ohio. Do you know how far I drive to have my adjustments? I drive about 25 minutes one way. Why? First of all, Dr. Paul is good. Very good. I have some major back injuries. Much of it caused by years of competition tennis. Dr. Paul has taken me from tremendous pain to a lot of relief. We are not out of the woods yet, but I can see the sunshine. But that alone doesnt keep me with Juszczyk. There are a lot of great doctors of chiropractic. I am loyal because Dr. Paul is not only a great doctor, he has also become a friend. He has connected with me. He cares about me and my family. That is why I am loyal.
We just finished the Second Pillar of Success which was on Sales. But I want to make crystal clear that the 3 Pillars work hand in hand. They build on each other and blend together. The truth of the matter is that loyal customers create more customers. Loyal customers become your best marketing.
Loyal customer Bob is minding his own business eating his lunch in the company cafeteria, when co-worker Sally starts talking how her teenage daughter Cathy needs to have braces on her teeth. Sally tells Bob that her dentist said that Cathy needs braces and soon. Sally is frustrated because she doesnt know what orthodontist to take Cathy to. She tells Bob that her dentist recommends five good ones in the area. But she doesnt want to play Russian Roulette with the five. Who should she choose?
Bob says to Sally, Who are the five orthodontists? Maybe I can help you choose? My son David had to get braces two years ago. We went to Dr. Kevin Baxter and he was great.
Dr. Baxter? exclaims Sally. His name is one of the five orthodontists my dentist recommends.
I would have no challenge recommending him. David loved him.
Dr. Baxter it is. Thanks Bob. I owe you one.
Dont mention it. Glad to help.
Loyal customers create new customers. New customers become loyal customers and create more new customers. And the cycle goes on and on and on.
Excerpted from Mark Bowser’s book the 3 Pillars of Success.