I've experienced two really poor examples of customer service recently. Both made me feel like an inconvenience to the place I was visiting and turned what could have been two lovely evenings out, into exhaustive, regrettable evenings that made me angry.
Then I logged on to facebook in the week (www.facebook.com/thebehaviourexpert) to see a colleague had posted about her experience at a local coffee shop that was empty. the owner was moaning about the fact that they had few customers and the other coffee shop in town had loads. My colleague, a marketing specialist, had suggested to the owner starting a loyalty scheme, to which the owner said she didn't think that would work as if the customers wanted to come in, they would.
Oh! Praise be! I've been wrong for 10 years of my career! A lightning flash ladies and gentlemen! It's not YOUR fault that customers aren't flooding through your doors, engaging with you and spending more. It's THEIRS!
Those stupid, pesky customers going elsewhere for things they could come to you for. When will they learn? Let us just sit back and do nothing and let them learn their lesson the hard way shall we? NO! Let's not!
Now, it is true that customers will come to you if they want to because otherwise, it would be false imprisonment. However, if you're stood patiently behind your till waiting for Gandalf to walk in one day with an award for great business and for your customers to suddenly decide to use you instead of someone else, you seriously need to take up train spotting, gardening or another time-consuming hobby that gets you as far out of business as possible. With an attitude like that - You. Are. Going. To. Fail.
It is our job, our responsibility even, to build a relationship with our customers and provide an environment, product and service that makes them want to visit you. You've got to be the big bright light to the moth. Lure them in with attention to detail, special offers, extraordinary service, a great environment and when you've got them, treat them with respect and reward their loyalty. I've got big shock news for you: your customers don't have to buy from you and with everyone feeling the economic pinch in one way or another, customers are more protective than ever of their hard earned cash and much more picky about who they hand it over to.
If you don't make plenty of noise and encourage customers to spend time with you, want to engage with you and in due course spend money with you, no one is going to do it for you and someone else will do it for them. It's much easier to let a business fail than it is to create great things. Being ordinary is easy. It comes naturally to all of us. Standing out takes a little thought and effort.
So grab a large sheet of paper - the bigger the better. And grab a cup of tea or coffee. And turn off your phone and email. Draw the curtains. Now it's just you and me. Cue the dim lights and candlelight. We're going to create something truly magical...
On your piece of paper, write down every positive emotion that you can think of. Need inspiration? Think of a happy moment in your life and write down words and phrases that describe how you felt. Now think about how you can create these positive emotions in your customers. What little extra things can you offer; what changes can you make and how can you convey them? If you provide bags for your customer to carry goods out; can you add tissue paper, a ribbon or a sticker to seal the bag? Finishing touches to help make each customer feel like a VIP. To build relationships with your customers, you'll need to communicate with them so ensure you're on all the social networking sites and you've got a regular email newsletter going out. At each point that they engage with you, whether physically, over the phone or electronically, ask yourself: what more can I do to create those same emotions in them? You and only you are responsible for the experience your customers have of your brand - turns out it's your fault all along, not theirs...
Jez Rose is The Behaviour Expert, the UK's most recommended customer service speaker. For more information and free resources on supercharging your customer service, visit: www.thebehaviourexpert.com