I went to buy my wife some contact lenses the other day. It was safer for me to drive and collect than to put her on the road with hardly any sight without them. I bought two packs, the same strength. 30 each, for each eye, so it’ll last her a month. Great, let’s check out.

The woman behind the counter told me that they do keep stock, but in future it would be great to let them know two days in advance to inform them that they need to get in some more stock. Out of nowhere the idea came to me that it would be great for them to call me or my wife asking whether they should order some for her.

This was a crucial difference in what customer service is in South Africa. I understand that contact lenses are a necessity and that my wife is forced to buy them, – read: they don’t need to deliver great service, you will come buying – but the company stocking and selling these will surely get a green light from her for all future purchases if they cared about her having sight if they just made the call. It’s called loyalty, and this can be a way to get it.

Another event where this great service was a bit of a let-down was with my dentist. I try go every six months. They started logging the 6 months period and automatically booked me for an appointment 6 months after my visit. When I got the call the day of the appointment asking whether I was going to show I was in the middle of my day, seeing clients and getting work done. There was just no way I would’ve been able to make it. The receptionist was quite taken aback about this, as if she expects me to be there. She should’ve called a day or two before and not just expect the booking. She should’ve asked if I need to come in, she has a slot open for me. This would be a great sale.

So there is some middle ground here. How to apply this to my own business? Never expect someone to automatically be available for a meeting 6 months from now. If I sold a consumable product, make the call to fill-up stock at the right time. Service is the new black. It’s how you differentiate yourself and your company. How can you improve your customer service?

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