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When was the last time you personally thanked someone for giving you their business? Can you think of the last time someone thanked you? And really thanked you, not just smiled or nodded as you walked out the door.
As a kid you were likely told (on more than one occasion) to remember to say “please” and “thank you.” But now, as a business owner or manager, are you practicing what you were preached?
How employees conduct themselves depends largely on the example management sets. For example, I learned early in my career that if I was having a bad day and let it show then my staff adopted that angst and passed it on. So keep in mind people around you will follow your lead. If you are upbeat, friendly and approachable everyone, including customers, will follow-suit. It is hard not to get caught up in someone’s passion and enthusiasm, so long as it is sincere.
How many times have you developed promotions that offer a free “add-on” to an existing menu item or product? The “buy one get one free” or “get a free appetizer with every entrée” promotions have been around practically forever. But when was the last time you approached a loyal customer, unprompted, and gave them a free appetizer or dessert just to say, “Thanks for your support and loyalty.” Obviously, this is not something you should do on a regular basis as it loses its purpose and effect; however, occasionally showing good will to customers and even suppliers does make a difference.
Beyond providing freebies, simply let loyal customers know you enjoy seeing them (and not just their wallets). Show customers you really value them. Make a genuine effort to connect with customers. This involves listening; let them tell you what they like, what they want and what they don’t want. They are already loyal customers, so their opinion is valid and important to keeping them happy. Remember, good will always does ‘good.’
Your demeanor toward loyal guests should not waiver when dealing with customers who have complaints or are dissatisfied. Don’t avoid these customers; that never solved anything. Acknowledge them, listen to their problems or issues and try to offer a solution immediately that will make everyone involved happy. If taken care of in a timely and fair manner, most complaints will be minimized and may actually turn into a positive experience for the customer. On the flipside, a complaint that is ignored can fester and grow into something that will affect your standing with that customer for a very long time.
Making customers feel welcomed and valued is the backbone of any successful business. A simple “thank you” shows respect, sincerity and commitment. By expressing your gratitude for someone’s patronage and loyalty you will set your business apart from so many others that take customers for granted and look at guests as just another transaction, not relationship. An appreciated customer will help grow a business. A customer who isn’t will depreciate it.