PR Briefing: Customer service that goes the extra mile

Service industries dominate what we do in the United States, so our experiences influence our choices in where we’ll go for services and how we’ll spend our money. Today, customer service is more important than ever before. But we’ve become so accustomed to poor customer service that when we experience the good stuff, we hardly know what to say.

What’s good customer service? It can be the seemingly “small” things (a friendly greeting or a treat for our dogs) that make a big difference with your customers.

Some people go above and beyond the call of duty, providing extraordinary customer service that keeps their clientele coming back. I’ve encountered some outstanding New Hampshire businesses – “the best of the best” – that truly deserve accolades.

For years, my husband and I have frequented Aubin’s Hardware in Manchester. Even though we’ve lived 25 miles away for the past decade, we continue to go out of our way to shop there. When we walk in, we’re greeted by friendly staff who don’t just point us in the right direction, but actually take us there. They ask about our needs, offering direction and support. And they ask about our family, genuinely caring about our answers.

Likewise, my colleague Adrienne has had great experiences at Arjay Ace Hardware in Exeter, where she has consistently received exceptional customer service. They greet customers warmly, help them find whatever they need, cheerfully special order products and load heavy purchases into customers’ cars. An Arjay employee was chatting with a customer while helping him select some items, and the customer mentioned having major problems with his do-it-yourself home improvement project. This dedicated employee actually visited the customer’s house on his way home from work to help him figure out a solution to his dilemma. That’s really going the extra mile – both literally and figuratively.

Screamers Café in Stratham is a favorite among area moms because they always accommodate the toddler set, offering a play area, cooking classes for youngsters and a flexible menu. But they also strive to meet the needs of their older clientele. Recently, when a Stratham police officer called to ask about the daily special, owner Leslie Blaney asked what he was in the mood for. Amused, the officer asked for fettuccini Alfredo. Leslie told him he was in luck – that just happened to be the lunch special. Actually, she was out of pasta, but she immediately went to the grocery store to get some and made the meal he was craving. Not surprisingly, he has become a regular – fiercely loyal – customer.

Janna, our graphic designer, is not only a talented artist, but she’s also a wild woman on the soccer field. After a soccer “incident” years ago, Janna needed knee surgery. The pain of her surgery was bad enough, but it hurt her more to miss the next nine months of soccer games. Knowing that she was miserable, her orthopedist, Dr. Straub, sent her flowers after her surgery. Because he was so nice, Janna went to him for her other sports injuries. (And she just started skating with the new ManchVegas Roller Girls League, so this friendly, flower-sending orthopedist may be seeing more of her in the future!)

We rely on the pick-up/drop-off dry cleaning service from Cleary Cleaners in Concord, and our customer service representative, Gary Andrews, is fantastic. He visits our office every Tuesday and Friday with a smile on his face and treats for our dogs. Occasionally, there’s a problem with our order. When we point out these issues, Gary is sincerely apologetic and makes sure the problem is corrected. And before he brings our order back, he double-checks to make sure it’s perfect. He makes us feel like we’re his most important customers – a rarity these days.

Speaking of loyalty, I drive to Nashua – 50 miles away from my Hopkinton home – to shop at Alex’s Shoe Store. The staff remembers me and our family’s narrow feet! They’re knowledgeable about their products, and when my son prefers a sneaker with Velcro enclosures instead of ties, they gently remind me that his narrow feet will stay in the tied version better.

OK Nails in Concord has gained my loyalty over all the others I’ve tried. I’m always promptly greeted and offered a drink. And the salon’s owner stops to chat, thanks me for my business and wishes me a good day. I leave looking good and feeling good!

When our office gets busy, we do takeout. The folks at The Depot always remember my name, no matter how long it’s been since I visited. The owner of Moe’s in Concord reminds me that he has meatball subs when I call in an order, knowing they’re my weakness. The folks at Constantly Pizza in Concord are delightful about helping us with some out-of-the-ordinary requests – like the cheeseless pizza for our staffer who is allergic to dairy. And when we asked them to support a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts – our annual Paper Airplane Contest to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire – they enthusiastically agreed to provide free pizzas for our event volunteers.

To those businesses that go out of their way to ensure spectacular customer service, thank you. We appreciate your efforts, we’ll see you again soon, and we’ll continue to tell everyone how wonderful you are.

Laurie J. Storey-Manseau owns StoreyManseau LLC, a Concord-based full-service marketing firm. She can be reached at 603-229-0278 or