In the current climate, does it pay to go the extra mile?

So I was sitting in the car dealership this morning, waiting for them to finish my car’s service, which they started in December and inexplicably failed to complete vital bits of at the time (and will now charge me extra £££ for).

I’d been there for the best part of an hour during rush hour but only four other people had come in to drop their cars off so the service bays weren’t exactly a hive of activity and the three blokes sat behind the service desk were looking a bit bored.

They perked up a bit when the phone rang, only to inform the customer on the other end of the phone that no, they couldn’t possibly valet her car while it was in for a service, but it would get pushed through the car wash as normal.

Hang on?  The dealership is not exactly jumping with activity (presumably the current economic climate is discouraging people from getting non essential servicing work done) and you can’t find a vacuum cleaner from somewhere to delight a customer?

I know that a lot of businesses are trying to cut out costs wherever they can (this particular dealership used to return cars from a service in showroom condition), but it seems to me that at the moment businesses should be aiming to go the extra mile, not cut corners.

It doesn’t have to be particularly costly, but showing customers that you really value them choosing to spend their money with you during these difficult times is priceless.

So how does this translate to AgencyLand?  Is it about making sure that the client’s favourite biscuits are in the meeting room?  Spotting an interesting article in the paper and emailing it over?  Delivering the work a day early?  Or is that just decent client service in the first place?

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