Dear Friends,

We are in the midst of Indian summer here in the Green Mountains with sunny skies and warm days, setting a few record warm temperatures and definitely extending the motorcycle season a bit. I know we are going to pay for this. I met with my new plow man yesterday to talk about the upcoming winter. I found a new plow guy because the young man doing it for the past couple of years is not a morning person, and sometimes we would not be plowed out until the afternoon. Real plow guys get excited when it snows and are up at 3AM to make sure their customers are happy and able to get to work!

Customer satisfaction is the key to any successful business, snow plowing or Apple-selling. I often tell my employees that customer service doesn’t cost—it pays. We take customer satisfaction very seriously; in fact, much of our incentive compensation is based upon our customer satisfaction scores as measured by NPS (Net Promoter Score). If you want to learn more about this means of measuring customer satisfaction, click here.

We do not pay commissions at Small Dog Electronics because we feel that the person that packs the box or sweeps the floors is just as important as the person that happens to take the order. We provide incentives to our employees based upon certain key performance indicators for the company, each department and the individual. In each case, a very large percentage of this incentive compensation is based upon customer satisfaction.

We track our NPS scores like someone monitoring their temperature when they have the flu. When we see a decline, I can walk around the company and overhear comments about how to get he score back up. It is just that important to our company. The other thing that Hapy and I have done from the very start is to empower our employees to directly deal with customer service issues. Hapy is much better than I am at deflecting requests for customer service decisions back to the employee with the question, “what do you think we should do for this customer?” Ultimately, we want our employees to make these decisions.

We will be having a special customer appreciation pre-holiday sale at our retail stores here in Vermont next weekend that will help some to beat the holiday rush. We are offering our local customers some special deals that will make you wish you lived in Vermont!

I had the pleasure of awarding the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility Legislator of the Year award to Speaker of the House, Shap Smith. During lunch with the Speaker, he talked about the huge challenges of the upcoming legislative session with a lame duck governor, many leaders running for governor and a big fiscal budget crisis for the state in addition to the lingering problems of health care reform, sustainable energy and transportation.

It was a lot of work on his plate, but then he told me that he felt privileged to be in his position to roll up his sleeves and tackle the heavy-lifting. It was very inspirational and I was very honored to present the award to him. See a photo here!

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