Boating Industry

April 2016

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18 | Boating Industry | April 2016 [ Beyond Satisfaction ] talking to them we're building that relationship whether they realize it or not." That effort continues through the com- prehensive delivery process, which is handled by the service manager. Before they leave, the Modern Marine team snaps a photo of the buy- ers with the boat, a copy of which later goes on a their invoice and is placed in a separate sales notebook for that current year so they can look back at it to better remember them following up on CSI and service reminders. "When I take their picture is when I mention we want to make them happy and we would appreciate [it] very much … if when they get an independent survey that they give Chaparral and Modern Marine a perfect 100 percent good score – while telling them we're not perfect but every effort to help them will be done," Padgett said. Exceeding expectations For the modern consumer, companies that meet expectations don't cut it. Delivering a boat that works is what you're supposed to do. Replacing a part that is covered by warranty is simply doing your job. At the same time, while the best companies aim for perfection, they also realize that it is never attainable. At Nichols Marine, winner of several cus- tomer service awards from its boat and engine brands, the important factor in success has been the willingness to go to almost any lengths to take care of a customer. With four locations in Texas and Oklahoma, the company sees a number of different customers throughout the year. Still, from the time the boat is delivered, the Nichols team stresses to its buyers that any problem, no matter how small, should be brought to their attention. "We've agreed amongst ourselves a long time ago to spend the money," said president Gary Nichols. "Customer service is about how much of an effort you're willing to go to make sure the customer is always taken care of and that costs money. You have to budget a certain amount of money for doing that." If that means making repairs that go above and beyond warranty coverage, so be it. While Nichols can't anticipate every potential problem, the service team works hard to keep a large sup- ply of common parts on hand in order to quickly address problems. "For the most part, we've been kind of lucky," Nichols said. "We've anticipated some of the things that will go wrong, we're prepared for most of that and generally we can make it pretty seamless for the customer." From top-to-bottom, Nichols has a culture of over-delivering on customer service. "We fail sometimes, but they don't see us fail from a lack of effort, and our failures would gener- ally come in the fact of something fails and we're not immediately able to take care of it for them," Nichols said. "That's our failure at that time, but they don't necessarily see it as a failure on our part because they know that we have done our level best to try and address the issue for them." In the end, most customers are going to rec- ognize the effort to make things right, even if the problem can't be fixed right away. "There is a payback from them in that regard, they will treat you fairer," Nichols said. "You won't have to address as many unreasonable re- quests from some of the consumers these days once they realize you're doing everything you can to be fair." Those customers also become champions of Nichols Marine, helping spread the company's message by word-of-mouth and driving repeat and referral business for the dealership. With lit- tle marketing or advertising, Nichols has become a market share leader in the markets it serves. Modern Marine takes that use of its raving fans even further, using them to supplement the two-person sales team at the annual Janu- ary Nashville Boat & Sportshow. At the time of delivery, Padgett asks buyers if they would be Modern Marine has been Chaparral's No. 1 dealer for CSI for nine years in a row. "It makes a statement for all to see that we have earned our customers' approval and satisfaction and that we want to earn approval from new prospects who are seeing those signs." — Johnny Padgett, Modern Marine "Customer service is about how much of an effort you're willing to go to make sure the customer is always taken care of and that costs money. You have to budget a certain amount of money for doing that." — Gary Nichols, Nichols Marine

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