Your Retail Success

Restaurants and retailers: does the customer see a difference?

Your Retail Success

by Rick Kroetsch

Instead of comparing your company to others in the same industry, have you looked at how you compare to customers’ expectations, which do not differ across industry sectors?

Service is service

Customers don’t differentiate based on what they are buying. They expect the same level of quality, service, and attention. Their lines blur when it comes to getting value for their money.

Restaurant principles

I was recently watching an interview with Danny Meyer, a restaurateur based in New York with range of restaurants. He is a big fan of taking care of customers and believes doing so will help grow and expand your business. He has six different rules for customer service in the hospitality industry. Let’s see if they apply to your business.

Rule 1: offer an emotional connection

When a customer comes into your business, understand that they want to be recognized and acknowledged. They’re looking for eye contact, a greeting, a nod—let them know they are welcome.

Rule 2: aim to delight

This is where customers want that little extra. They expect to get what they pay for—what can you provide that goes beyond? Think one step ahead of them—what else can you do that anticipates their needs in advance? This doesn’t have to be product related or have anything to do with selling more goods. It could be helping a busy mother as she is shopping, offering to help her with her other parcels—small, thoughtful gestures can have huge impacts.

As Meyer describes it, great hospitality means making guests feel at home while offering them extraordinary experiences they can’t get at home. Small gestures delight because the customer doesn’t see them happen that often, so think about how you can delight. Anticipate—don’t make them ask.

Rule 3: be competent

Here your customer expects that you know your role. They want knowledgeable people who can answer their questions. Don’t take it for granted that all team members are up to the customers’ standards of competence. Train, explain, and coach. Demonstrate to your customers that you are the go-to source.

Rule 4: nurture authenticity

No one wants a cold robot greeting them and helping them through their buying experience. Be real, be engaging, and be friendly and personable. Don’t force team members to follow a tight, one-size-fits-all script. Your customer wants a tailored approach.

Rule 5: enable flexibility

The best laid plans can go off track due to circumstances beyond your control. Prepare for the unexpected. Run some scenarios with your team as to how to handle infrequent situations that you know will come up, so the customer has a seamless, positive experience. Your team will know what to do and how to handle the situations without hesitation. If they need to run around looking for an answer, it can destroy the moment and the experience.

Rule 6: work with integrity

Staff members who are engaged, respected, and happy in their roles easily project that message to their customers. Your team is motivated and it shows. A company with integrity will reflect on the front-line people engaging with the customers.

Any difference?

Your customers are comparing your business to others that they interact with. It doesn’t matter if it is a restaurant, a hotel, an airline, a car repair business, or a salon. It’s all about a great experience from people who make them feel comfortable and know what they need and want. This is a great way to keep them coming back and recommending you to their friends and family.

Rick Kroetsch is the vice-president and associate publisher of Alive Publishing Group.