As I sit in the front waiting area of a client’s business watching the walk-in traffic, one observation is constant – the excited looks on most of their customers faces!
This client is a local bakery and their baked goods are beautifully displayed in glass cases.
As I watch closely, the customers’ eyes widen as they approach the cases. Some laugh, as they can’t make up their mind regarding which delicatessen to choose while others run to select their favorite.
The bakery employees are upbeat and ready to serve, as they patiently wait for their customers to make a decision. Some customers make jokes like, “Is this stuff sugar-free?” or “How many can I eat before I ruin my diet?”
Now, this type of customer experience does not just happen by chance. Let’s talk about what contributes to these customers being “crazy” about this business:
This bakery has carefully established a reputation for providing customers with the best products possible. The owners take pride in maintaining the reputation that was established 66 years ago by the founders.
Their baked goods are made fresh daily in order to give customers that “it was made today” comfort level and taste. The general manager has worked tirelessly to create systems to insure product freshness.
This is an example of why you must be concerned about both establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with customers and within your community. A positive reputation builds trust and credibility with current and future clients. It’s pretty easy for customers to refer you to others when your reputation is intact.
At this bakery, I’ve watched how the employees greet each customer individually—even when engaged with other customers. Genuine smiles are offered even when a customer is a bit gruff. Proactive employees immediately draw customers to them (especially during initial one-on-one encounters).
An employee with a delightful attitude bodes well in the quest to provide a great customer experience. It’s important to have the right people in front of your customers. I always advise business owners to put “people person-types” in front of their customers.
I am a firm believer that these types of people provide great service from the heart. It doesn’t matter what the product or service is, a “people person” looks forward to putting smiles on customers’ faces. Be sure to get the right people in front of your customers. Get the ones who “run toward” the customer to make sure the experience is a great one!
The people in charge (i.e., the leadership) at this bakery are determined to keep customers coming back. The General Manager is tasked with finding ways to make sure the bakery and two satellite stores run smoothly on a daily basis.
Engaged leadership is essential to a successful enterprise. At the beginning of my stint with this client, we held an all-day “Pet Peeve Conference” to address the “pet peeves” of the owners, management, department heads and employees. During this time solutions were developed to remove the need for internal personnel to be “peeved”.
The recognition by the owners of the need to address these “pet peeves” is an indicator of their desire to make sure that all is well within the organization. When leadership is truly engaged in the day-to-day operations, both employees and customers are beneficiaries.
Do you want customers to fall in love with your business? If so, remember: it’s important to maintain a positive reputation in order to increase customer retention. Make sure you have engaging employees interacting with customers and never forget that engaged leadership is most critical to your organization’s success.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Internationally known speaker, author and customer service expert Errol Allen provides practical advice and solutions garnered from over 25 years of hands – on experience. He possesses a multi-faceted perspective of organizations through the various positions held during his corporate tenure with companies such as ADT Security Systems, TCI Cablevision, The Houston Post, Excel Communications and GEICO Insurance.
From the phone to the field, Errol has serviced customers himself and understands that a “systems” orientation is crucial to providing excellent customer service. He is a member of the American Society of Quality and regularly shares his customer service expertise as a contributing writer for The Houston Business Journal and Small Business Today Magazine. Get your copy of Errol’s new book – “Keys To Delivering Amazing Customer Service!” Connect with @consult53 on Twitter.