I’m a frequent visitor to a nearby hardware store. One of the employees, Zac, makes a point to say hello and call me by name. I’m pretty sure he memorized my name after writing it down a few times as I was dropping off blades to be sharpened or screens to be repaired.
Unlike other store staff, especially the over-eager cashiers, Zac rarely if ever asks, “Can I help you find something?” Or, the even more irritating, “Can we help you find something?”
Zac apparently knows that if I need help, I’ll ask. He probably also intuits that I’m one of those people who likes wandering hardware store aisles now and again.
So, instead of pouncing with pseudo-proactive customer care, Zac greets me, we make brief chit-chat, and then I either tell him why I’m there or ask him to point me in the direction of my intended purchase.
When I leave Zac’s store, I usually feel well served and valued.
I visit a local candy shop on occasion. One of the managers, Julie, has made it a point to learn my name. She also knows my regular order — a No. 3 popcorn, plain, in a bag (not a box), with a Pepsi. She asks how’s it going. I ask her how’s business. These interludes rarely last more than a minute. But I leave Julie’s store feeling like a regular, and valued for it.
On my walk to the parking ramp after work, I’ll sometimes stop at one of those sandwich, soup and salad places that also makes great baked goods. Between 5 and 6 p.m. cookies and muffins go on sale for half price. Unless I”m buying cookies for the whole family, I’ll get a chocolate chip or two.
When I approach the cashier, there’s no greeting. Zero recognition that I’ve been here before. And once the sale is rung and cash is exchanged ($.59, or $1.28) the cashier robotically asks if I want my receipt. For what seems like the umpteenth time I’ll say no, thanks, and shuffle off.
Forget about 15 minutes of fame. What many of us hunger for is one minute, even 30 seconds, of recognition — as an individual, a good client, a repeat customer — as we go about our daily rounds. In fact, some of us base our buying patterns and brand loyalty on it.
In a retail business, in customer service generally, there’s a line between training employees to follow procedure, so they become regimented and rote, and engaging them to recognize and treat customers as individuals.
What about your organization?
Are you finding ways to help customer-contact employees make regular customers feel recognized and valued? Or are you simply ensuring that no customer walks away without that one last shot at the receipt?