I frequently visit a local coffee shop after sunrise mountain biking. Often, I see many of the same people enjoying a coffee, cold drink, or a fruit smoothie. The atmosphere is typically very inviting, and the staff are friendly and always seem happy to see you. I could get a cup of coffee anywhere, but this place has become one of my favorites. It just feels good to be there!
One Poor Experience Can Turn Someone Away For Life
On my last visit to this coffee shop, something was different. The barista who usually greets me with a smile seemed to be having a rough day. As I approached the counter, she kept her back turned and didn’t acknowledge that I had entered the coffee shop. The tip jar is usually stuffed with money, but I noticed that this morning there were only a nickel and two pennies at the bottom of the jar.
I waited a good 2-3 minutes, and the barista approached the counter with, “What do you want.” It seemed as though my presence was a bother to her. I replied, “I’d like to order a cup of black coffee when you get a minute.” I got my coffee to go and headed out the door. As I was leaving, two friendly older gentlemen I often chat with were headed out as well. I overheard one of them say, “That’s the last time I’ll visit this place! What’s another good coffee shop in town?”
This girl usually has a great attitude, and her customers love her. But today, by treating people like they weren’t important, this coffee shop likely lost a number of their regulars.
Stand up and Greet People with a Smile
Everyone loves to be acknowledged, even in small ways. Every time a customer enters one of our Best Cellular retail stores, employees stand up, smile, and greet them. What if our employee is on a call or working with someone else? A quick smile and a quiet greeting allow someone to know we’ll be happy to help as soon as possible!
One of the best examples of employees making a customer feel welcome is the Cold Stone Creamery in Montrose, Colorado. That ice cream shop is almost always packed with customers, and the employees work hard to keep up with all the orders coming in. Even with a few dozen people in line, every person who walks in the door is greeted by a friendly, enthusiastic voice saying, “Hi, welcome to Cold Stone!”
The environment is so friendly and inviting at that ice cream shop that it’s always a memorable experience. We plan to take our employees to see how great it feels to be welcomed with such excitement!
Give Personal Attention
Ask good questions. Instead of “selling” the customer, find out what product or service best fits your clients’ needs. Take time to make sure they’re delighted. A “good salesman” can make a lot of money closing sales quickly, but someone who makes friends of their clients has customers and referrals for life.
Thank your clients for doing business with you. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, but an inexpensive gift or card can also leave a lasting impression. One of the banks we regularly do business with sent me a thank you card that was signed by twelve managers and bank employees. Although we frequently make large deposits with this branch, I never expected this type of appreciation. It made a massive impact on me to know that this branch valued our business enough to buy a card and take the time to have a dozen people thank us in written form.
Listen to Feedback
Most people won’t tell you if something is wrong. They simply won’t do business with you again. If your customer takes the time to give you feedback or criticism, listen to it! If there’s an issue they felt strongly enough to mention, it’s something to evaluate and possibly change.
Support Other Entrepreneurs
Millions of Americans own small businesses or classify themselves as entrepreneurs. You probably have many customers who own their own local businesses or sell unique products and services. Other customers have kids who sell girl scout cookies, raffle tickets, chocolate bars or have a lemonade stand. Keep them in mind when you need the services or products they offer, even if the price isn’t as low as you could get it somewhere else. If you have customers who own online businesses, support their growth by ordering from their website instead of major online marketplaces. Your clients will feel valued when you turn the tables and become their customers as well.
Best Cellular has customers nationwide, but when a customer ends up in the hospital or is stuck at home due to injury or sickness, we try to send a card signed by employees from their local store. This act of kindness isn’t designed to generate sales, and we don’t expect to get any business by doing it, but customers greatly appreciate it when we show empathy in times of need or sadness. We have had customers visit a retail Best Cellular store in tears who mentioned our card was the only recognition they received while being in the hospital. We aren’t always able to find out every time a customer is sick or hurt, but when we can show empathy or give encouragement, it often has a profound impact on the recipient.
Making Others Feel Appreciated Is A Long-Term Investment
Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, once said:
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and always put the customer first, success will be yours.”
To make your customer feel appreciated takes a conscious effort. You have to listen to them, and possibly make some changes to your routine or services in turn. Like many things in business, your work to help your customers will pay off in the long run.