March 8, 2010: A ‘customer hug’

Keith Obermeyer’s store has a CSI sales score that borders on perfection. So if he had to pinpoint one initiative or practice that produces that result, what would it be?

“Communicating openly with the customer that they are the customer,” he said. “You get asked a lot of questions in the purchasing process and something as simple as telling the customer, ‘You’re the customer. When do you want it? Whatever you need, we’re here to make it happen.

“Sometimes customers will say, ‘I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I know you’re busy.’ Just communicating to the customer, ‘You’re all I’m worrying about right now. You’re the one focus that I have, nothing else. Whatever you need, I’m here to serve you.’ I think that’s been the biggest thing for us, that one on one.”

Obermeyer refers to it as “giving the customer a hug, sort of speak.”

It obviously has paid off as the store continues to receive top CSI scores even without putting much emphasis on the surveys. “We’re not prepping people,” Obermeyer said of the Yamaha CSI surveys. “We’re not saying, ‘Here’s exactly what Yamaha is going to send you and here are all the questions, and we only pass if we get ‘excellent.’ We don’t do that.”

Instead the store relies on personal interaction, that ‘customer hug,’ to boost CSI and just as importantly, word-of-mouth referrals. “The more you can do positive word of mouth,” Obermeyer said, “the less you have to spend on a billboard or a newspaper ad.”

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