Be Careful, the Plate is Hot!

June 10, 2011


It is amazing how much can happen in a second.

I was at a restaurant recently where our server was pleasant and efficient, but she always seemed more concerned with where she was going next than her time with us. As we answered her questions about the taste of our entrées or need for beverage replenishment, she would nod, turn and retreat in a single motion. Skillful, but unsatisfying. Instead of feeling taken care of, I felt like I was a box on her to-do list waiting for a checkmark.

In contrast, we stopped by Publix on the way home, and after checking out, the cashier handed me the receipt, looked me in the eye, smiled and wished us a nice evening. One second. That was the only difference. She took an extra second to connect with me and make me feel like she was present in the interaction and that I mattered to her.

If you are wondering why it is all about me and how I feel, it’s because it is. I am what matters. I am the goal. I am the prize. I am customer, hear my roar.

Getting new customers is the lifeblood of any business, but keeping the ones you have may be the difference between survival and unsurvival (yes, I made up a word). Spending that extra second on the people who have already chosen to do business with you is an important reminder to them about the value you place on the relationship.

So how does that translate to other types of businesses? What do we do when we don’t always see our customers face to face? How do we smile at them through phone calls or email? (Emoticons do not count.)  Try returning calls sooner. Remember more about your last interaction, especially if they shared something personal or timely. And send the last email in a conversation wishing them a great weekend or conveying your appreciation for their business.

That should certainly be enough to get a smile out of them.



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