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The Mastercard Approach To Customer Service

Furniture World Magazine


Sofa: $899. Mattress: $1199. An afternoon with your spouse shopping every furniture store in town: Priceless.

You've seen the commercials... "Baseball tickets: $28. Souvenir program: $8. Hot dogs and soda: $14. An afternoon with your son: Priceless. There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard." Or it goes something like that. It seems that we're in a day and age where everything comes down to dollars and cents. And if we can't put a monetary figure on something, we put that thought in print as well. We can talk all we want, offer the greatest savings, and give outstanding customer service, but sometimes if the customer doesn't see it in writing, it's just not the same.

We want to be remembered not only for our great customer service, but for whatever else we can do to insure that the customers will come back again. And we want those customers to refer us to all of their friends, too. The easiest way to keep them thinking about our "priceless" qualities is to write them down on the invoice or receipt. If you have to sell a piece of furniture at a discount, write down the regular price on the invoice. Then cross it out and write down the customer's price. If you're including something for free, write that down as well. For example, if you sell a new sofa and loveseat, then throw in a pair of end tables, put those extras on the invoice, list the retail value, then write "no charge." It's "psychic savings."

There's a car dealer in the Southwest who offers an oil change for $19.95. He does this not only to compete with the Jiffy Lubes and all the other quick-service places, but to bring more customers into his service department. His invoice looks something like this:

  • Oil Change: $19.95
  • Filter: No charge
  • Check hoses: No charge
  • Check tires: No charge
  • Vacuum mats: No charge
  • 30 minutes or less: No charge

If his customer watched television in his waiting area, there would probably be a "no charge" notation on the invoice for that, too. Let your customers know you're going out of your way for them. Put your "priceless" qualities in writing.

If you're sitting down with your customers, or they're on the other side of a counter, keep a blank piece of paper close by. Once you start talking about features and benefits and reasons to buy, write them down. If they're on paper, they're more believable.

Maybe you're selling a bedroom set. Your customers are next to you at your desk. They've already seen a couple of different brands at other dealers. It's down to your bedroom and dollars and cents. Don't just give them a price and wait for an answer. Write down the list price on a piece of paper where they can watch. List some major features. Cross out the first price, then write the price you want them to pay. Show them how much they'll save. Circle that number. Now those savings are real to them, because they're on paper.

Sincerity is another "priceless" factor. You may not write "Sincerity: No Charge" on an invoice, but there are other ways to demonstrate it. For example, do you always thank your customers? A while back, I was in a supermarket where my $100-worth of groceries was being rung up by a teen-age gum-chewing young lady busily preoccupied with making a lot of small talk with the tattooed jock doing the bagging. A few times I caught her ringing up the same things twice. She was a little put off with me interfering with her social life, and once our transaction was complete, she gave me my change and went back to her chatting. I turned and said, "You didn't say thank you." She said, "It's on the receipt."

That was one case when having something written down didn't make me feel like a valued customer. This is probably an extreme example. I'm sure you say "thank you" when you make a sale. It's only common sense. But you might consider also writing, "Thank you!" in longhand and signing your name on the receipt. When the customer finds that you actually wrote "Thank you!" and signed your name below it, it's a really nice touch. That personal attention to your customer is "priceless."

Let your customers know when you go out of your way for them. Showing them is one thing. Telling them about it is another. But listing it as part of the sale at "no charge" will be a benefit to both of you.

They'll feel good about it, and you'll have a better chance of not only bringing them back in again, but also of having them refer you to their friends.


Bob Popyk is the publisher of Creative SellingĀ®, a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies for high-ticket retailers. His sales meetings and seminars are presented worldwide to major companies and industries. Questions or comments can be directed to FURNITURE WORLD at editor@furninfo.com.