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Great Service... The Fabbrini Difference

Putting the Customer First 
by Kristin Young

Originally published as, "The Road To Greatness: Going the Extra Mile to Captivate Customers," in the April 1998 issue of Floral Management: The Floral Business Authority. Reprinted with permission.

Floral Management MagazineLinda was so disappointed when she saw the floral sympathy arrangement at the funeral home. It didn't have the full, "poofy" look she requested, a look her mom just adored when she was alive. "How could that florist do this to me?" she muttered angrily to herself. A few days later, she calls her florist to complain.

If Linda were on the other end of your phone, how would you handle the above situation? What would you say?

A: "Sorry, that's too bad. If you had called earlier, we could have done something about it," or

B: "What would you like us to do?"

Choice "B" may seem like a good enough answer to most florists, but when this situation happened to Jim, he passed on the above answers and went one better by saying, "I'll credit you the price of the arrangement. I'm sorry we disappointed you. How can we make it up to you so you will give us another chance." That's the difference between good and great customer service -- and that difference has garnered the Fabbrini's a 24 percent increase in their shop's total sales last year. Here's how they make great service work.

What Is the Extra Mile?

There are 25 places to buy flowers within five miles of Fabbrini's Flowers in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Jim knew his second generation flower shop needed an edge over their competition. They needed a special hook that would draw in the customer, one available only from their shop. The hook, often overlooked by florists, is offering not just good, but great customer service.

So what's the difference between good and great customer service? Savvy customers are looking for more than just quality product and a great price. They want memorable service. To get it, they are more discerning about where they will shop.

Take a look at Nordstrom, a major department store nationally renowned for its customer service. There is nothing spectacular about its product or prices when compared to similar stores. But when it comes to customer service, it has the other department stores beat. When you ask an employee in men's clothing on the second floor where the women's shoe department is, you will not be told it's on the first floor. Instead, the employee will escort you there, personally. "It's those little extras that make the difference," Jim says. "You give your customers what they don't expect."