“You want to go where everybody knows your name.” ~ Cheers
I’ve been going to a little sandwich shop on the outskirts of San Antonio for about 8 years now. I don’t get by there as often as I used to, but I still try to pop in every couple of months. No, the sandwiches aren’t world class, after all, a submarine sandwich is a submarine sandwich – just like a 10×10 storage space is a 10×10 storage space – they’re all pretty much the same. The reason I frequent this particular sandwich shop is because of the manager there – James.
You see, the first time I went there, James took my order, an 8 inch Italian, no onions on wheat. He learned my name when I handed him my credit card. The sandwich was pretty good and I made a mental note that I could stop here again. It just so happened, only two or three weeks later, I went back. That’s when James won a customer for life. When I stepped up to the counter to order, that’s when James said, “Hello Mr. Monty, good to see you again, do you want the same as last time?” With the number of customers James must see each day, I was amazed that not only did James remember my name, but he even remembered what I had ordered last time. As I sat that day eating my sandwich, I sat close enough to the counter to notice that James knew many of his customer’s names and what kind of sandwiches they liked and he made each one feel like they were long lost friends and he was truly grateful to see them again.
Making customers feel welcome is the easiest way to win their business and yet so many companies fail at this simple business principle. One of the fastest ways to make your customers feel welcome is to call them by name. Always make sure you find out your customers name and clarify the pronunciation if you aren’t sure. As much as people love to be called by their name, many get very offended when their name is mispronounced. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who care much about whether or not I offend someone – get over it – but offending customers is a different story.
James was blessed with a very good memory. You may not that ability, I know I certainly don’t. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but every property management software that I know of has a customer notes section. Get in the habit of making notes about little bits of information about your customers. Those little bits of information can go a long way towards building a relationship with your customers that leads to loyalty to your business. The next time the customer comes in and you open and quickly scan their notes, asking a customer things like, “How is your mother doing after her surgery” or “How is the new job going for you” or “Tell me how your son is doing in little league” will make a customer’s day and really make them feel important and that builds loyalty. It gives people the opportunity to talk about themselves and makes them feel valued. That’s why I’ve frequented the same sandwich shop for all these years. James makes me feel like we are old friends.
Taking a genuine personal interest in your customers builds rapport. People want to do business with someone they like and people like people who remember them and pay attention to them. You’d be surprised how easy it is to learn something unique about your customer that you can use again to make them feel special. Be observant. If it’s obvious a customer is in a hurry, tell them, “I can tell you are pressed for time so I’m going to cover this information as quickly as possible but let me know if there is something you need more information about.” They will appreciate that you are considerate of their needs.
In short, do whatever you can to make every customer feel important. Make regular customers feel like family and new customers feel like regulars. Remember the Cheers theme song – “you want to go where everybody knows your name” and let your customers know you’re glad they came.