My wife, Patricia, our two kids and I moved to New Hampshire to live full time on a lake instead of living in the heart of the action in the Boston area. There is one problem with the move: the options for dining and purchasing premium food products are limited. Most people may be able to deal with this change, but it’s a huge problem for our family. I find myself making sure that I make stops at our favorite purveyors while I am in Boston for business meetings. Patricia is constantly searching for places that might suit our preferences and taste buds.
Recently, she stumbled across a pasta shop near the kid’s school. She was excited and hopeful that this shop would be a viable alternative to the fresh pasta she was able to buy locally before we moved. Unfortunately, we will never know because the clerk at the store had no interest in what my wife needed or what she was looking to accomplish. Patricia started to explain that for the holidays, we have big crowds and would need to order eight to ten pounds of pasta for our group. The hemming and hawing that ensued along with the clerk wanting Patricia to jump through hoops prior to making a purchase was ridiculous. To top things off, the clerk didn’t even know if it was possible to accommodate our needs. Hello, it’s pasta…
This is why businesses close. Business owners and their employees must break away from the mindset of “this is how we do it” and that there is no room for adaptation. The products that businesses sell are not special enough, in most circumstances, to warrant that attitude. It’s not the product alone that drives business; in fact, you could have a subpar product with incredible customer relations and be more successful than the company with a great product and no plan to win over your customers. The key to being overwhelmed with customer traffic is to give them what they want. It’s so very simple, yet so many businesses fail because they do not pay attention to this concept.
Sure, it’s hard to get exceptional help; heck, it’s difficult to even get good help. However, it is the owner’s job to lead the way to unbelievable customer satisfaction and the task is not as herculean as it may seem. There are three very simple practices business owners can put into place to make sure their employees are not mucking up their business.
I. Question your Actions and Words:
1. Do you actions or words build a relationship with the customer?
2. Do your actions or words make the customer feel like they have your full attention?
3. Do your actions or words generate a desire for the customer to return?
II. Write it Down:
1. Keep track of what customers want and need.
2. Don’t rely on your memory alone.
3. Don’t just take orders, take notes.
III. Follow Through:
1. Do what you say you are going to do.
2. Know what customers want and give it to them.
3. Always follow up.
This all may seem rudimentary; however, if it was actually a common business practice, there would not be so many rude customer interactions. Customer satisfaction is not difficult to accomplish, if you have disciplines in place to allow your employees to focus on the customer. There definitely would be a certain pasta shop in New Hampshire with a new family of Italians singing their praise if they followed The Big Three.