Good customer service pays off in the end

Consumers, often very demanding customers, have their own pocketbooks at stake and lack product knowledge. Three immigrant business owners from as many continents draw on their culture to enhance their customer service.

Mahmud Jafri, originally from Pakistan, imports, manufactures and retails flooring and window treatments, including hand-knotted rugs, and provides interior design consultation. He’s CEO at Dover Rug & Home Inc. in Natick, Mass.

Rajendra (“Raj”) Hariprashad, who moved here from Guyana, South America, is president of Ena’s Driving School Inc. in Hollis and Richmond Hill, N.Y. It offers private and commercial license aspirants driving instruction and state-mandated courses.

Zlatan Beca, from the former Yugoslavia, co-founded and is vice president of sales at Repair Jungle LLC in Bethesda, Md. His website and mobile app enable screened auto mechanics and body shops to bid on consumer car repairs.

WHAT THEY BRING

Jafri grew up in an area without industry, factory and construction jobs, where hand-knotted rugs and related crafts are prized.

“We, as importers and retailers are totally dependent on the designers, weavers and washers,” he says. “If they want more money, we have no choice but to pay them.”

Dover Rug’s customers may test the fine rug they’re buying on a one- or two-day trial.

“This lets the customer check price, quality and how well it works in their home in the morning, evening and afternoon,” Jafri says. “It also gives them the luxury of comparison shopping.”

Ena’s Driving School’s Hariprashad drove to a convenience store to get a customer with a learner’s permit, who objected to his youth. He then told her he’d take her home without cost.

“I’m not going to come in the car with you,” she reiterated. He said he’d wait in the parking lot for an hour. So he sat.

That changed her mind. She got in the car, drove 45 minutes to Long Island and another 15 minutes around her neighborhood before she said, “I like you. I’ll take the lessons.” She wouldn’t accept any other instructor.

Although Hariprashad immigrated at age 11, he incorporates the best of his first culture in his work.

“We treat people nicely,” he says, “everyone we come in contact with.”

Repair Jungle’s Beca thrives in the Washington, D.C., metro area, which is a melting pot.

“I can relate to almost anyone from any nationality, any ethnic background,” he observes. “After I see a name and talk a little, I can tell where they’re from. It makes me more personable.”

“The approach we take is that of an elite restaurant about to lose a customer even though we’re not about to lose one,” he says. “We’ll do whatever it takes to make things right.” He’ll offer to drive to a customer 50 miles away or, when one assumes he will, just does.

Beca says cable companies and health insurers create a feeling of distance among consumers — “like talking to a machine or a person overseas.” He also reports that cars sit in driveways, because consumers dislike the repair process.

His staff speaks with or emails every potential customer, all treated identically, regardless of repair cost. Beca has invested as many as 40 emails to assure consumers of the quality of the work and to make them feel comfortable.

Are you doing handstands and somersaults for your customers?

Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2013 Passage Media.

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