Waking up in the middle of the night and watching TV is a dangerous thing for your pocketbook because of all those infomercials selling things that you just know you have to have. Such was the case for me one night not so long ago.
I will admit that this has happened more than once and some of my bleary-eyed purchases have been good and others not so good. Plenty of infomercials can be described as scams, particularly those that promise to help you get rich. My most recent order, however, was for a specific product — a vacuum —and I’ve already been pleasantly surprised by the customer service even though I haven’t even received the product yet.
Therein, I think, lies a lesson in customer service that anyone could apply to their business. After making the order, I received a thank you confirmation email. A few days later, I received an email advising me that the order had shipped, complete with tracking number, so I could know when to expect to receive the product in the mail.
Then came the next unexpected email: another thank you for my purchase, but with an added message that the company had a created a website to help me get the most out of the product when it arrives. The website, the email message said, has how-to videos with assembly, product usage and cleaning tips; frequently asked questions; product manuals; an opportunity to purchase parts and accessories; and a link to live chat with or email customer service representatives.
My immediate reaction was that this company wants to make sure I have a great experience with its product. My next thought was about how this type of service could be applied to a rental store’s operation. You might give your customers a product demonstration and instruction, along with an owner’s manual to take with them, but there’s always a chance the customer will forget some of the key operating tips by the time they get home with rented equipment.
What if, when the customer returned home from your rental store, he or she received a personalized email or text message with a link to your website that could provide how-to videos specific to the item rented as well as access to online product manuals? Many equipment manufacturers have added quick response (QR) codes to their equipment, so the customer can use a smartphone to scan the code with a QR-code reader app and see demonstration videos, but why limit that interaction? If a rental store also makes an extra touchpoint with the customer, it will remind them help is just a click away or call away and shows just how much you care that your customer has a successful rental experience.
That can go a long way in creating repeat rental customers who will be more likely to recommend your business to friends and family, introducing the rental concept to more potential customers.
With a little extra effort and taking advantage of available technology, you have an opportunity to play a part in growing your industry, building legions of satisfied customers who will continue to rent and expanding the revenue pie.
For me, the only question I have now is whether this vacuum will live up to the infomercial hype, but I already know that if it doesn’t, the company is standing by to help make sure that it does. Can your customers say the same thing about your business after they rent something from you?
Wayne Walley is editor for Rental Management, the official magazine of the American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL 61265. He can be reached at 800-334-2177, ext. 253, or 309-277-4253; fax 309-764-2747; firstname.lastname@example.org.