December 18, 2014

Guarantee the Customer Experience – Remove Price and Worry from Buying Decisions

Most guarantees put a limit on the time customers have to return a product after its purchase. That enforced timeline creates a transaction-based relationship with customers, as they measure happiness one purchase at a time. Zane’s Cycles in Branford, Connecticut decided to guarantee the happiness of the customer relationship instead. They threw out the clock. The Zane’s guarantee says: “We are going to live up to our promises, no matter what the timing, no matter what the product or service.”

The Power of a Promise – and How it Grows Your Business

Founder Chris Zane knows that each customer who walks through his store’s door brings $12,500, on average, to the business over the lifetime of the relationship. The intention behind this guarantee is to earn a new customer by eliminating any reason for not considering Zane’s Cycles. So Zane’s guarantee includes everything: lifetime free service, a 90-day price guarantee, a lifetime parts warranty. With these promises, Zane’s says to customers: “Why worry about price when our price is guaranteed? We will live up to our promise.”

This promise guides decision-making throughout the lifetime of every Zane’s customer. For example, a customer who wants to return a $500 item is gladly given the refund. It is not worth jeopardizing the future value of that relationship. Zane’s employees embrace that: It’s not $500 at risk; it’s a $12,500 customer.

Remove Price and Worry from Buying Decisions

Does Your Experience Have an Expiration Date?

Companies who understand their customers’ lives grow their businesses, and earn the right to customers telling their story to everyone they know. Zane’s earns the right to their customers’ stories with their decision to guarantee bicycle ownership. In a world where there is so little that customers can count on, this promise delivers “wow” in a world of customer service vanilla.

By eliminating fear and worry from the buying experience, Zane’s ensures customers are less prone to negotiating a bike’s price, because in the long term, they know they’ll be covered by the Zane’s guarantee. Zane’s can maintain its margins because price is never the determining factor in a customer decision. Customers know, “If I buy it and I don’t like it, I can bring it back.” Zane’s customers look forward to the ownership experience—also guaranteed.

What part of your experience can you guarantee? How do you make sure your customers sleep well at night, knowing you’ve got them covered?

Go Try This

Evaluate How you are Delivering Peace of Mind to Customers Today

  • How would you rate your intent and ability to guarantee happiness for customers?
  • How would your customers say you are doing?
  • Do customers rave about their relationship with you?
  • How do your decisions on policies and procedures compare with this beloved company?
  • Do your decisions to live up to your promises earn your business “beloved” status today?

Take Action to Earn Raves From Customers (and Employees)

  • Try to identify one part of your customer experience that you can guarantee to give customers peace of mind.
17 Comments ▼

Jeanne Bliss


Jeanne Bliss Jeanne Bliss is the founder of CustomerBLISS; a consulting and coaching company helping corporations connect their efforts to yield improved customer growth. Her best-selling books are; Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions for Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.

17 Reactions

  1. Inspiring post, Jeanne!! Keep ‘em coming, please. This really resonates for me since I’ve been working on Walking Main Street, my first book, dealing with how local business owners are surviving and prospering in today’s Google-powered and Facebook-powered world. This is exceptional and hats off to Zane’s!

  2. Jeanne Bliss: I have heard that Zane’s Cycles is lending out bikes to potential customers for a free ride, without any security.

    TJ: When is your book coming out?

  3. If Zane’s Cycles were in my neighborhood I would buy a bike from them. That kind of service and a lifetime guarantee are hard to come by and I would definitely pay more for it.

  4. Its been great to see so many companies putting their focus on the consumer. The medical profession could learn a lot from Zane’s. As a chiropractor I’m always looking for ways to WOW my patients. With the type of care that is typically being offered it isn’t too hard to amaze.

    I’ve got a lot of great info from Gitomer, but I haven’t found much that is health care specific.

    thanks for the post!

  5. Hi TJ,
    Thanks so much for your feedback. I agree wholeheartedly — especially in this economy, that it is thinking about the customer on the other end of decisions that is bonding companies with customers. As people pull out and have more money to spend, they will go back to the companies who honored their integrity and took that monkey off their back.

    All the best to you with your book launch! Please keep us posted!
    Jeanne

  6. Martin,
    You are right — one of the most well quoted case studies in my book is the story about Zane’s and that they let people take bikes out for a test drive without asking for any collateral. That’s because Zane’s and other beloved companies decide to “believe”. Chris Zane has calculated that every customer that walks in the door can be worth up to $13,000 or more over their lifetime– if they take good care of them — beginning with that first test drive. They don’t want to jeopardize that long term revenue by questioning a customers’ integrity from the start…and it pays off for them in growth. And, by the way, they lose less than five bikes a year!

    I love gutsy business owners! My dad ran a Buster Brown shoe store — and this is EXACTLY the type of thinking that made him prosperous.

    Jeanne

  7. Robert,
    You have a lot of company. Zane’s margins beat the pants off their competition. They do in excess of $15 million per year from a single store because of these deliberate decisions they make. You actually can buy from them over the internet by the way!

    Jeanne

  8. Bryan,
    Stay tuned — there are more health care specific posts coming up. In fact my book that this Zane’s story comes from has quite a few health care case studies in it.

    Jeanne

  9. It only applies to customers who won’t abuse the guarantee. And the focus shouldn’t be on the $12,500 customer, but the experience throughout the customer journey.

    Promise should be mutual.

  10. Like most ‘policies’ expiration dates are set for those who abuse good will. And like most ‘policies’ they are unneeded. Zane’s realizes this fact and acts accordingly… hats off to them! L.L.Bean has a similar policy.

  11. Great article! I have preached these same principles to the furniture industry for many years with reactions ranging from complete skepticism to utter incredulity.

    Three years ago I started an e-commerce furniture manufacturing/retailing company based on the concept that exceptional and personal customer service was a key ingredient for marketing the company.

    The doors of the factory and the introduction of the website took place in November, 2007, one week before President Bush announced that the country was officially in recession. The company had $0 sales at opening and $5000 in its first 2 months.

    As of today, three years later the company is profitable with sales in excess of $100,000 per month. During that same time period dozens of veteran furniture companies have closed down or fled to the Far East. Industry sales are down about 30%.

    Among the furniture industry innovations that were introduced by Simplicity Sofas:

    1. A warranty and return policy that stated, “If you are not happy with our furniture for any reason whatsoever you may return it to us for a full refund, including shipping costs.”

    2. A policy of communicating with our customers as often as possible. Every email and phone call is followed up quickly. Customers are kept fully informed of the progress of their order through production and delivery. From a customer’s first contact with the company until after final delivery of their furniture, at least 10 communications are made. It is not unusual for the company to have more than 40 contacts with a customer over the course of a sale.

    3. All customer questions are answered quickly and in great detail, sometimes offering insights into industry and company practices. For example a question about why we charge 100% of the sale price at the time of the sale receives a detailed 500+ word explanation. A question about foam specifications can receive an explanation that is twice as long.

    4. Each customer is contacted after delivery and asked how they like the furniture and the customer service received. Even the most minor complaints are quickly taken care of.

    5. All problems are resolved to the complete satisfaction of the customer regardless of the expense involved.

    6. New products are based upon customer comments and requests.

    7. The company gives away free surprise gifts to particularly nice customers. Most often these are free throw pillows ($50 value)or $50 gift certificates (for use by the customer’s friends and family.)

    8. The company does not have a paid sales force or sell to retailers. What it does have is a growing network of former customers who are so enthusiastic about the company that they volunteer to show off the furniture in their homes to prospective new customers. Currently there are about 40 of these unpaid volunteers. (Actually I usually do offer to compensate them for their time but they always refuse.)

    8. The company has dozens of extremely positive reviews all over the internet, in review sites, blogs, forums, etc. In the 3 year history of the company there has never been a negative review and we try very hard to keep it that way.

    Jeff Frank, Owner
    Simplicity Sofas

  12. Jeff,
    Thank you SO much for writing in!

    Your practices and deliberate decisions to build your business in the manner that you did embodies all of the practices that I found in the two years of research in writing my latest book.

    The fact that you believe your customers, and their word and offer a no questions asked guarantee, the manner in which you guide your organize to be clear about your purpose and principles, the human kindness you extend, how you operate based on your customers point of view, and how you repair the connection when mistakes sometimes happen — all of these things have earned you status of “beloved” company.

    Bravo! I am reaching out to you via your website — would love to know more!

    Jeanne

  13. Jeanne, Thanks for the input. I look forward to your new posts! Where could I get Buster Brown shoes?

  14. Hey Martin,
    I miss those Buster Brown Shoes! Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and we’ll “talk” soon!

    Jeanne

  15. Jeanne,

    Is it a shoe shop in certain areas / states in America? I don’t recognize them from NH or OH, but I could have missed them. I bought the most of my clothes from Eddie Bauer.

    Happy Thanksgiving and talk to you soon again!

    All the Best,

    Martin

  16. Hi Martin,
    Buster Brown shoes are children’s shoes. They used to have these specialty shops all around the US. You can still find them sometimes mixed in with some children’s shoe departments. Sigh.
    Here’s the history of Buster Brown Shoes:
    http://www.brownshoe.com/history/

    Jeanne

  17. Jeanne,

    I will check out the story of Buster Brown Shoes. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Join us Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. EST for the Small Business Outlook 2015, a free webinar!


X