Photo: SPangborn on Flickr

Photo: SPangborn on Flickr

Today I want to throw a shout-out to a little place where you can still get good old fashioned service with a smile… the Edgemont Village Chevron Station in North Vancouver.

A few days ago I noticed the right front tire of my car looked a little low, but I rarely drive it – it only goes about 60km/week – so I wasn’t too worried about it. I mean, it’s not that I can’t check my own tire pressure and fill it with air, but I don’t know where the gauge is, I can never find the proper pressure where it’s written on the tire or the car or whatever, and it’s been raining every day. So I’ve been avoiding the task with every procrastinating fiber in my body.

Then my husband noticed the tire.

He suggested I stop by a full service station next time I need gas. What? I’m sorry, did you say full service?

Today I visited the Edgemont Village Chevron Station, mid-way between my home and my work – a very convenient spot right in the middle of “the village”. The station looks a little like a throw-back to the 80’s… its pumps have been upgraded, but it doesn’t have much of a store to speak of – just a shack with oil, air fresheners, batteries and probably cigarettes (they used to, anyway). It also has a garage. I know… a very unusual sight.

So I rolled up and out strolled Rob.

Rob is a man who does a really good job of providing a full service experience. He filled up my gas and checked and corrected my tire pressure as I’d asked. He asked if I wanted anything else – like a windshield cleaning or the oil checked and I declined. It was so strange but I actually felt uncomfortable letting him do these things. They somehow felt like too much.

He joked around with me and laughed while going about his work. Once finished he handed me my receipt and as I started up my car the windshield wipers came on and bounced across the window… “Oh wait!” he said. “Let me clean those off for you. They make that sound when they’re dirty.” He proceeded to wipe a bunch of scunge off my wipers. “If they keep making that sound, you probably have resin on the windshield… you know, like sap from trees and stuff. Use a little Vim cleaner and it’ll come right off.”

I thanked him and went on my way, feeling very well taken care of… and I hadn’t even accepted the oil check and window cleaning!

A recent comment from Adchick on a post from Where’s My Jetpack got me thinking about customer service and what will help companies succeed in today’s economic environment.

In this self serve world we’ve created we’ve made everything faster, more efficient, cheaper. We go through self-check-outs at the grocery store, pump our own gas and pay at the pump, drive through automated car washes, use ATM machines, bank online, talk to each other using IM and email. Luggage and snacks on the plane cost extra; even the headphones aren’t included to save us $3 on the fare. We talk to machines to resolve customer service issues and we even have machines calling our homes to sell us stuff. We want cheap and fast even at the expense of human interaction.

People are craving a little attention. Aren’t you?

Photo: Shemer on Flickr

Photo: Shemer on Flickr

So maybe instead of spending all your time and energy thinking about how you can make things faster, easier, cheaper in order to make more on your bottom line… maybe you could stop and think instead about what will make your customers leave feeling like they’ve really been taken care of. Give them something that feels like extra, even if it isn’t. Give them so much value they feel the need to decline. Honestly I think peoples’ expectations of business are at an all time low; surely it can’t be hard to exceed them.

The next time you need to gas up your car, try out the full serve and ask for the works. If you’re from my neighborhood, visit the Edgemont Village Chevron and say “Hi” to Rob for me. Then think about how good it made you feel to get truly waited on and pass it on to someone else.

You won’t regret it.