With a background of looking at businesses to find their flaws and what they do well, those that stand out to me consistently delivered customer service fundamentals. Despite a competitive market, they’ve continued to grow their businesses by focusing on their customer’s experience with their company.
First, let me ask you to work with me while you’re reading this article. I believe that repeat and referral business for any business is developed by more than your product’s price. And know some of this sounds so basic and common sense. I challenge you to consider that common sense isn’t always common practice.
Your Business From the Outside Looking In
As a customer, when I drive up to your business, how does it look? If your parking area isn’t very defined, then it causes a bit of frustration. That’s not the feeling we want customers to have before they even enter the business. If there is an unkempt look, it makes a difference to your customer and where they want to spend their money.
Are your windows clean, inside and out? Removing old decals or unsightly ones does make a difference. Throughout the business, everywhere that has glass or mirrors should always be clean and streak-free.
What is the first thing your customers see when they come into your business? Many small business owners work hard every day in their business. Too often, they come and go without looking at their business through their customer’s eyes. When they finally do look, the changes are done immediately.
Keeping your business super clean and orderly makes a positive impression on customers. You could have an old building, but it can still be clean. Maintaining a clean business is a management function and a mindset. Remember, employees follow the lead of management and owners.
Greeting a Customer With a Smile
As human beings, one of our quirks is that we like to be recognized. When I walk into a restaurant, and the hostess immediately says hello, does that create repeat business? What if it takes a few minutes for them to stop chatting with a fellow hostess before they acknowledge me? Does that create repeat business?
Any employee who comes in contact with a customer is what I call a front-line person. Being on the front line requires a confident attitude towards the customer. This attitude needs to be customer-friendly at every interaction. Not every other one or when the employee feels like it, but every interaction. Even the janitor needs to look up and say hello and have a good day.
I believe that the owner and management team sets the tone in any business. From the first interview to hire a new employee, you set the expectations of how they are supposed to interact with customers. Once hired, the new employee must see that the business’s culture supports this level of attention and that it is not just lip service.
Problems Are Opportunities
Every business makes a mistake once in a while. You are out of something the customer wanted or any other combination of issues that arise. It is all how you handle it that makes the difference.
As you can tell by now, I am a huge fan of impressing the customer. Many of my clients embrace the concept because often it usually doesn’t cost much to make this kind of impression. It is the human interaction that makes the difference, and it takes the right attitude to deliver it.
Proactive customer service is rare. Thinking for the customer and anticipating what they might need creates loyal customers. You can make a mistake, but because you’ve had a track record of excellent customer service and thinking ahead of what they need, they easily forgive you.
Customer Psychology 101
If I get great service at a restaurant and great food, will I come back? Sure. That’s the place I’m looking for. It may even be pricy, but the price will be justified because of the quality delivered in both food and service.
If I get ok service and great food, will I come back? Yes, but it may not be a “go-to” place. It becomes a filler in the quest for where are we going to dinner tonight discussions. It becomes the 3rd tier of choices.
If I get poor service and great food, will I come back? Probably. I might try it again and see if the service is better. If I get the same poor service and great food, the restaurant becomes a talking point with friends about where not to go for dinner.
If I get great service and ok food, will I come back? Yes. It’s not the waiters fault is the rationale. I’d try it again with an open mind to the food but it falls into the 3rd their of choices.
If I get poor service and poor food, will I come back? No.
Ranking Your Business
Take each of these categories and rank your business from 1 to 6. One being poor and six is great.
- How your business looks from the outside looking in
- You and your staff greet every customer with a smile and a warm greeting
- Your staff looks at problems as opportunities
What was your score?