My husband and I ate out Friday night at a restaurant some friends told us about. The restaurant wasn’t new, we didn’t have a coupon or special offer, and it wasn’t exactly convenient to where we live. We decided to go there because we trusted the recommendation of friends and appreciated the chance to try something new. Our experience was one of great service from a cheerful server who seemed to enjoy her job and made us enjoy our contact with her. This is why we will return.
In my last blog I talked about the value of happy employees, and my recent restaurant experience supports the claim that happy employees truly impact on the bottom line. Our friends had a positive experience and returned to the restaurant a second time (one benefit) and recommended it to us (a second benefit). Our positive experience will encourage us to return (a third benefit) and perhaps even mention it to our friends (benefit #4).
Delivering happy employees is just one of the ways you can influence the influx of new customers and, at the same time, broaden customer loyalty. Here are some others:
- Be consistent consistently – people like to know what to expect and appreciate that a brand stands for a particular type of experience. If you reliably deliver the same experience each time someone enters your location (assuming it’s positive, of course!), customers will keep coming back for more.
- Provide excellent service – make customers feel special by paying attention, listening and being responsive to their comments or concerns. If it’s possible in your business, get to know your frequent customers and what they like.
- Communicate often – with lots of ways to connect with people today, it’s much easier (and cost effective) to promote events, provide news, suggestions, reminders or let them know about new offerings.
- Offer incentives – sometimes your communications can include special offers, punch cards, coupons or enticements to encourage people to return. Be careful not to overdo this one, or people may come in only when they get something for free.
- Membership – everyone likes to belong and be part of something they enjoy. Some people appreciate the sense of community and others like the special status or access it gives them. Loyalty programs help customers feel connected to your organization, part of its community, and part of its success.
Good managers impact all these areas. Training and support of staff members is already a part of what managers do every day. You treat your staff like you want them to treat customers – you communicate, provide them with good service, deliver a consistent experience and make them feel that they belong. It will translate well from your employees to each person that walks through your door. Before you know it, your customers may soon be telling the same story I told about my recent restaurant experience. The benefits compound from there.
By, Nancy Lane, Human Resource Manager at Red Book Solutions and B2A, LLC – 30 years of experience in education, medical imaging, oil & gas and business