Cover Story: Full Speed Ahead
Mirroring the Customer
"Our employees are the bikers that we sell stuff to," says Rich Brecht, J&P's senior call-center manager. "They have a sense of, 'This is how I want to be treated,' 'This is how I expect to be treated.' That helps us relate to our customer base. The people customers talk to on the phone are riders themselves. Many companies, especially in this tough economy, have abandoned efforts to offer free technical advice. We have hundreds of years of motorcycle experience with our techs, and we offer that up free to our customers. They can pick up a phone and ask, 'How do I install this part?' 'What's the best part for me to buy?' 'What's your opinion on this particular product?' That's a big differentiator for us."
J&P's bond with its customers is evident in the loyalty they reciprocate. Recent surveys the company conducted have revealed that 98 percent of customers say they'll do business with J&P Cycles again. In addition to frequent contact with customers via its call center, email and retail stores, J&P attends more than 50 motorcycle rallies and events each year, bringing along its "mobile showroom semi" truck to interact with its target prospects, and of course to sell its wares to the captive audience.
Making Happy Returns
Consistent with this customer-centric approach, J&P has a liberal return-for-any-reason policy of 120 days — and the company's usually flexible on the day count. "I hate to downplay it," Parham says, "but it's more important than a brand-new order because something has already gone wrong. Something happened that the customer didn't plan on."
After the return process is finished, an internal investigation is triggered at J&P to find the root problem that made the customer return the item. The company's technicians then are tasked with updating the information in the catalog and website with their findings to avoid further returns.