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Tuesday
Jan172017

Win Loyal Customers the Old Fashioned Way…By Establishing Personal Connections

This past summer, I discovered a not-quite-so-new restaurant near my office and was blown away by their unique and delicious wraps—and their great customer service skills.  Immediately upon walking in, you are greeted, sometimes by more than one employee.  Recommendations are openly given and customization is allowed, along with free beverage refills if you dine in.  Upon leaving, you are also told goodbye and thank you by one or more employees.

What has impressed me the most, though, is the manager, Paul.  After several visits, I was greeted with a smile, and an, “Amanda?” as he tried to remember my name.  It doesn’t matter that he got it wrong; he TRIED to remember my name.  When I corrected him, he asked where I worked when I mentioned that I’d referred a co-worker to them (which was immediately rewarded with a free cookie for dessert).  The next week, I was greeting with a, “Hi, Amber!  How are you doing?”  He had learned my name and remembered it.  Did I feel flattered?  You bet I did!

Another week or so later, I came in and Paul told me that I must have read his mind about coming in.  My company had picked up a catering order and he had planned to include a free lunch for me, too, as a surprise.  Unfortunately, they had gotten busy around that time and he’d forgotten.  After telling me this, he refused to charge me for my lunch.  I told him that he’d actually made my day because I was completely stressed about a family member starting cancer treatment that day, the holidays and being really busy at work.   He sincerely expressed his concern and said that his sister had also been going through treatments.  Did you catch that?  He established a personal connection with me, his customer, showing that he understood and cared.

After the holidays, I stopped in for a late lunch and saw him and his employees eating lunch at the counter.  I had great news to share—that I wanted to share with him because he’d been so genuine with me.  I quickly told him that the treatments had worked dramatically and that my relative was going to be considered “cancer-free” by the end of the month.  What did I get?  A fist bump and cheers from everyone there, along with another free cookie for the “sweet news”.  It was heart-warming to have these new “friends” in my corner and cheering with me.  It made me feel great about spending my money there—and want to come back again and again.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to keep giving away free stuff to win over new customers and gain customer loyalty. What I AM saying is that, when you make attempts to get to know your customers—and relate to them in some way—they are going to remember you and feel like a part of the family.  And when they feel like that, they’re going to keep coming back because they feel comfortable being there.  Personal connections are the ties that bind people to you.

Think about how you treat your regulars.  Do you—and your employees—engage with them more than the standard “Hello” and “Thank you”?  If not, you should. 

Can you follow some of the practices mentioned above to win over newer customers?  I’m betting with a little bit of effort, everyone can.

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