Service is the key differentiator between many businesses when customers have little need to leave their home and physically visit a retailer to make a purchase. While we in the restaurant business compete with delivery concepts, many guests still enjoy visiting in person, especially if the experience trumps convenience. Those who serve the guests are the key drivers of customer experience and are directly tied to the growth of the business.
Those who serve the guests are the key drivers of customer experience and are directly tied to the growth of the business.
Recently, I decided to make a sizeable technology purchase. I knew exactly what I wanted and I could have ordered online and received my products within 48 hours. However, I decided to visit my local retailer to support their business and be absolutely sure I was making the best investment. When I entered the store, I was greeted by a salesperson. I told him what I wanted, including all of the specifications, and asked to see the demo product. As we approached the display, a pre-teen was playing a game on the one demo available. It was obvious that he had been there for some time trying to achieve one more level. Rather than interrupt, the salesperson told me he would come back and left me there to wait while the young man continued to play.
As I waited, I walked around the store, thinking about what accessories I would buy to complement my purchase. I returned to the demonstration to find the boy still playing and the sales person standing on the other side of the store with a group of sales people talking amongst themselves. Finally, I decided to leave, go home and buy online. I really wanted to make my purchase at that store, but there was a mismatch of my desire to make the purchase and their desire to make the sale.
If we are leading businesses dependent upon customers coming to us, then we must engage them and create experiences so remarkable they will return again and again.
There are three key ways to engage customers:
Demonstrate That it’s Truly a Pleasure to Serve
A critical part of engaging customers is the language employees use to ensure customers they are looking forward to serving and assisting. The Ritz Carlton teaches associates that they are “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” The Four Seasons Hotels use the phrase “fully committed” when there are no rooms available. With this phrase, the guest is informed that the Four Seasons is fully committed to serving guests and if there are no rooms to offer on this stay, they hope you will know they are fully committed to serving you on a future stay. Chick-fil-A restaurants answer a “thank you” with “my pleasure,” a statement that reminds the guest it is truly their pleasure to serve. The words we choose are critical and the consistency with which we use them is equally as important.
Go the Extra Mile
This requires doing more than what the customer expects. Customers expect you to accurately fulfill an order and to be pleasant. But it is going the extra mile that leaves an impression and ensures a customer’s experience is remarkable. During a snowstorm that shut down both highways and businesses several years ago, a Chick-fil-A franchisee took food to stranded motorists on the highway. He did not sell meals; he gave them away!
Create Memorable Experiences
Memories are not just created in Disney World. Every business who serves customers can create experiences that make guests want to return again and again. It can be as simple as Southwest Airlines humorous flight crews or as elaborate as Chick-fil-A’s first 100 camp outs at new restaurants. Whatever the case, the idea is to provide an unforgettable experience that the customer will look forward to recreating and use to associate good memories with your brand.
A kind word, a generous gesture, an inviting smile and a warm handshake can have an immeasurable influence on customers. Serving with pleasure, going the extra mile and creating memorable experiences will endear them to your brand.