Bulldog Rule # 14 – The right people never want to work with the wrong people
When is the last time that you got a heart-felt “Thank You” or “I love this place!” from a customer?
It is amazing that most businesses, big and small, are not laser-focused on getting customer compliments. There should be a section of every store dedicated to posting customer compliments. Everyone in the store should know who gave the compliment and why it was given. It should be in the budget to get compliments.
So how hard is it? It depends on how you approach your business and what influences a compliment in the first place.
Let’s spin it around and look at the opposite of working to get compliments:
When you think about exceptional customer service you should have the three parts of the business in mind – the invitation, the presentation, and the follow up.
A big part of the invitation should be word-of-mouth advertising. Compliments bring this type of marketing. The presentation can be lost in trying to help customers too fast without listening to them. The follow up is the part where the feedback is the strongest. This feedback can either be a compliment or a complaint. If you do not get any feedback just add that customer to the complaint pile.
Do you make it hard to get a compliment? There are many subtle ways of keeping customers from giving you a compliment. The biggest way is to stop asking them how they like your products or service. If a customer buys and leaves the store and no one asks the customer how they like your service they are going to go somewhere else next time. There are plenty of businesses that don’t listen to the customers. Those stores are usually empty soon after opening for business and leave a stunned owner wondering where the customers went.
The sloppiest way to get a compliment is the latest trend – the survey on the receipt. I almost never call the number or enter information online and I am a consultant for small businesses. This approach lacks the personal touch that customers are looking for. Remember Bulldog Rule # 5 – “Every business is a people business“. Removing the human element to the feedback is rude. Do not do this. It is a waste of time and money and it tells your customers you do not care. If you called five new customers and asked how they liked the service you would have more repeat customers.
There are companies that have a toll free number the customer can call and talk with a live person. This is a little better since there is the human element. Make sure the person answering is the person you want to talk with your customers – whether it is a compliment or a complaint. Have a system to follow up with the customer within a couple of days. Letting feedback grow old is another sign of not caring what the customer has to say.
The best way is to ask the customer as they are in the middle of the process of spending money with you and after the transaction is done. You should be prepared to take notes and follow up with the customer. There is no better way to let a customer know they are wanted than to ask for feedback and be honestly interested in what they have to say.
I mentioned posting the compliments earlier in this article. This is not optional. It should be part of your business culture. If you do not reinforce your employees efforts for a job done well, then you let them know that mediocre work is the norm and that is exactly what they will give you.
In closing I want to mention Bulldog Rule # 7 – “Remember to dream about where your business can go and then make it happen“. What would your business be like if you had employees working to get compliments every time they helped a customer? The only thing keeping that from happening is you.
Low Cost Marketing
Low cost marketing requires creativity and planning to make it work, but can be as effective than a big budget plan. I like to start with the question, “What can you brag about that your competitors can’t?” Yes, I want you to tell me what you are seriously proud of at your store. Something you want to tell everyone you meet.
I saw a store sign today that said “The best drive-thru…112 customers helped in one hour”. That is not only amazing, but as a customer (or potential customer) I now know that I will be helped quickly at the drive-thru. Personally, I go inside a fast food restaurant to get helped quickly since the drive-thru at most restaurants tend to be the slower option. I had to try thru drive-thru and I was blown away at the speed, the service, and the smiles from the hourly employees working the window.
For your store, what do you already have that you can use to promote your “brag-able” quality? It may be a reader board like in my example or a nice big window to paint. Another untapped option is your employees.
Your employees, as a group, know more people than you do, they get around town more than you, and can promote your store more than just a sign in the window. Give your employees t-shirts or jackets to wear that have the brand and the item of pride labeled on it. They can wear it on the job and give them extras to wear when they are off the clock. They are walking billboards for your location.
I came in late one night last week. It was bedtime for my son and I went to his room to say “goodnight”. I tucked him in and told him I was also going to bed. He said, “Ooooh, Dad did you get in trouble?!” I hurt myself laughing that night. I also had a great night’s sleep.
Perception is everything in this world and to my son going to bed early meant something bad. To me it meant recovering from a long day. I would have thought the same thing when I was seven years old. Funny how things change.
The disconnect we have with people sometimes can very well be the same thing I had with my son. Hopefully it makes you smile like he made me, but more often than not, it is the reason we lose customers. Simply put, we forget to see things through the customer’s eyes.
I was assisting an owner of a restaurant on his operations when I overheard a customer ask a waiter if they could have more napkins. The waiter asked if there was a spill. The customer asked for napkins once again and once again the waiter asked where the problem was. After this impasse occurred, the customer flung cash on the table and left. Standing by the door I could see the customer leaving and could tell there was no saving the situation. I also noticed a splatter of tomato sauce on the front of his trousers from his lunch.
It is tough to fault the waiter since he was taught to be helpful and find out exactly what the customers want. You can’t blame a customer for wanting to clean up a mess he made quietly. So what would have made this better? Looking through the customer’s eyes and seeing that he didn’t want to tell the waiter he was clumsy would have helped better and made the customer more comfortable. As it is, the customer did not come back again.
How many times have you thought you were being helpful and really just making a mess of things? I bet there are examples every day where we think about things through our own perspective and do not see things as another person intended them. Reading people is an art form that every person in the service industry needs to work on daily.
Since over 80% of communication is non-verbal, your assignment is to go someplace where you can watch people (not stalk or stare at them) and see what they are “saying” through their body language. After a while you will notice trends such as smiling, touching, moving fast or slow, and where people look tell you what the person has on their mind. The next step is to figure out what you would do if that person was in your store.
A smiling person is the best. They are happy to be there and can be a good customer. Someone who is holding there arms across their chest tightly is not ready to buy, but may be willing to listen to you explain you products. Someone looking closely at an item is interested and may need a small push to buy. Read them and act reasonably to get the best results.
How things are perceived is the key to having a successful business. The trick is to learn the perception your customer has for your business and change what you do to meet their needs.
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