It is often the little details that customers recall even more than the product they purchased or the service they received. Little details that customers notice, and that makes them feel good about not only making the purchase, but making the purchase from you, is a significant part of the overall customer experience. Here are six ways to go above and beyond good customer service and boost customer loyalty.
New York restaurateur Danny Meyer is a master of detail, and his employees are trained to notice, and when appropriate act on, even the tiniest scraps of information they observe or discover about a guest. If you happen to mention when making a reservation that it's a birthday dinner, the manager will make it a point to come to the table and extend Danny's birthday wishes to the appropriate person. If a staff member overhears a conversation in which one of the guests mentions they either like or dislike something, within minutes, everyone who might come into contact with that guest knows about it. And they tailor your food accordingly, too.
For those to whom attentiveness is important, the experience one has when dining at any of his restaurants is a pleasure that is second to none. It's no wonder that his restaurants regularly battle with each other for top ranking in the "Most Popular" list on the Zagat guide. His book, Setting the Table, is a treasure trove of wonderful business lessons that all businesses could model in one way or another, and it's a great read to boot.
Greeting your customer by name is a very meaningful and treasured detail that adds greatly to the way they experience doing business with you. If your office works by appointment, the receptionist should make sure he knows just who will be walking in the door next, and immediately greet them with eye contact, a smile and "Good morning, are you Mr. Morgan?" if she isn't sure if it's Mr. Morgan, or simply, "Good morning Mr. Morgan" if he is. One of the things a friend of mine always mentions when talking about her plastic surgeon is, "I love going there because they always know who I am and are happy to see me."
There is nothing more flattering, there is nothing that makes someone feel more special than receiving a warm, friendly greeting by name when walking into a place of business.
Don't we all have a story about the coffee shop waitress who doesn't ever need to be told how we like our iced tea, or the diner where the cook starts to make the same thing you always order the minute he sees you walk in the door? The salesperson who sends gifts in pink because she remembers that's your favorite color. The florist who never puts a particular flower in an arrangement because they remember it makes you sneeze or the wine shop that calls you when a certain vintage comes in because they know you're partial to it. These experiences add value, and they also instill an enormous amount of loyalty.
Is there anything you and your staff can do to ensure your customers know that you not only pay attention to their preferences, but remember them and cater to them for each and every transaction?
Do you or your staff regularly walk customers to the door and open it for them as they're leaving? Do you or your employees regularly help customers carry their purchases to their car, particularly "women of a certain age" or anyone who appears frail or a bit unsteady on their feet? If you have a waiting room and some of your clientele are older, do you have chairs that are a bit higher than usual and have arms on them so they are easier to get in and out of?
When customers buy something that includes an outside component that's integral to its use or makes it more user-friendly, do you ask if they have that thing or if they still have enough of it left? For example, if you sell birthday cakes, do you have candles to go with it? If you have a pediatric dental practice, do you have a little stepstool in the bathroom so the child can reach the sink? If you have a business that makes keys, do you have something that could be put on the key to identify it so the customer will always remember what the key is for?
What do you do to show your customers, your clients or your patients that you appreciate them? After all, there are probably several other businesses that do what you do. Do you show the customers who choose to patronize you that you value and appreciate their business? Feeling appreciated is an experience that is universally meaningful.
You could invite special customers to a sale a day earlier than the general public or you could have an invitation-only event one evening and give "VIPs" an additional X percent discount. You could gift-wrap their packages or periodically give them that thing they often buy for free. If you're product is a service, offer a free check-up.
Always be sure to let them know that you are extending this extra to them because they are a valued customer and you want to show them that you appreciate them. And one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to show them appreciation is to send a handwritten note on lovely stationary.
Put a smile on their face and in their heart. You can do something special for their child, their parent, their pet. Make them laugh, thank them in a showy way for a major purchase, have a contest or a drawing for something fun that they could share with family and friends. Serve warm, freshly baked cookies in your office, give their child a bunch of balloons, offer a nice snack mid-afternoon.
The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
Meaningful, memorable, fun, unusual and unexpected experiences influence the way customers perceive you in general and feel about you in particular. These little details are so easy to overlook, so tempting to brush off as unimportant. But add a number of seemingly minor details together, and you end up with something of far more value than you would without them.
It's the little details that keep a customer coming back over and over, it's the little details that cause a customer to rationalize paying more because she feels she is getting more, it's the little details that keep people talking about you and recommending everyone they know to you.
Anyone can do the big things right; it's the little things that differentiate one business from another and that influence customers to choose one over the other. Often, small-business owners cut out the little details when times get tough, and this is a big mistake. Attentiveness and recognition cost nothing, nor do personalization and consideration.
Sydney Biddle Barrows is a New York based business consultant and recognized expert on the customer experience. You can find out more about her coaching programs, consulting practice and her newest book, Uncensored Sales Strategies, at http://www.sydneybarrows.com.