Recently, I was in a local tailor shop getting alterations done. While there, another person walked in and asked an employee how much and how long it would take to get a button re-attached to his dress shirt. The employee gave him a confused (and annoyed) look, then asked, “Only one button?” He continued, “Are you saying that you want to hire us to re-attach one button?”.
When the “potential” customer said yes, the employee let him know that the dry cleaner across the street can help with that. Now, I don’t know if he actually went but he did leave the store looking deflated. All over one button.
Do you think he will go back to that tailor shop? Neither do I. Do you think he will consider going back if he has a suit alteration or a more extensive project to be done? Nope.
When it comes to customer service, it’s rarely about the transaction; it’s about the relationship. More importantly, it’s about the long-term relationship. Whenever someone expresses an interest in patronizing your business, you should always ask yourself, “What would it take to grow this from a one-time transaction to a relationship filled with many transactions”?
You see, one button can turn into multiple buttons…which can turn into alterations for shirts, pants and suits. What if that one customer, who wanted that one button, owned a business with many employees, who all needed their uniforms adjusted? When you are diligent in little things, you will be diligent in big ones. .
Takeaway: Look past the transaction and focus on the relationship.
Advocates or Adversaries
As a business owner, one of my biggest goals is to deliver consistently exceptional service. By doing so, our clients not only return, but they also tell others about the great services and products we provided.
Approximately 90% of our business is either repeat customers or referrals (from repeat customers). The key is to treat your new customers like they are already loyal customers. In fact, I recommend that you should treat your potential customers like loyal customers as well.
I won’t trust your pediatric office with my children if you can’t even answer the phones right. I won’t trust you with catering my event, if during the site visit, the menus are dirty. I won’t trust you to alter my suit, if you are above re-attaching “one button”.
Takeaway: The best way to turn new customers into loyal customers is to treat them like loyal customers.
Find a way
I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again. As long as it is legal, ethical and moral, find a way to make it happen. That’s one of the first rules of hospitality I learned as a young, restaurant busboy. The key is to ensure that every touchpoint you have with a customer is a positive (if not, memorable) one. Even if the touchpoint concludes with you offering a recommendation for another business that may better meet the customer’s needs. Even that can turn out to be positive in the long run.
In the end, if we truly value each person that we serve, then even someone casually asking for directions will feel our heart. Through it all, let your heart shine through every touchpoint and request that comes your way. Let your heart shine through simple tasks and complex requests. Let your heart shine with potential, new and loyal customers. And as your heart shines, your customers will value you and what you offer even more…even if it’s only for one button.