Are Your Customers Talking for the Right Reasons?

elizabethOn a recent business trip to Tacoma, Washington, I had the pleasure of dining at Indochine, a restaurant that specializes in unique Thai creations. What I didn’t expect was the dining experience I had because of a gal named Elizabeth (and you can see her in the enclosed picture).

From the moment we sat down it began.  And if you have ever been in that moment you know what I am talking about.  We didn’t just have dinner we had an “experience”.  And in the service industry, these never happen by accident.

So what made Elizabeth different than everyone else?  There are probably many reasons but I will share three that really stuck out to me:

#1 She WANTED to be there.
This is the stuff you just can’t fake. And her greeting, smile, promptness, attentiveness and overall demeanor told us that.  She was glad we were there and let us know it. It’s the “people skills” factor. Do your employees have it?  If they don’t, do they know it?  And if so, what are you doing about it? Are you helping them hone those skills or are you settling for the warm bodies you have to fill the shift? How relentless are you in determining/allowing who will represent your brand? For most companies today, a similar service/produce offering means your employees really are the only thing that make you different from the competition.

#2 She LOVED the restaurant’s product.
I am not a Thai food connoisseur so selecting a menu item was not easy. When we asked Elizabeth what she recommended, her face actually lit up! She recommended a seafood dish and admitted, “I hope there is still some left later when I take my break.  It’s my absolute favorite and a real treat when I can get it.”  We ordered that dish and I can tell you I now understand what she meant.  Elizabeth could talk about the menu (their product) because she had 1) experienced it and 2) she liked it. Could the same be said for your employees? If you sell a product, do you ensure everyone has tried it? If it is a service, have your employees been a “customer” of that service?  If they have not, it is very difficult to sell it – at least sell with confidence and sincerity. By the way, there are many creative ways to allow your employees to be your customer – great retention and employee perk options!

#3 She served us with CREDIBILTY.
As Elizabeth described the menu, we asked about customer favorites.  When seafood options came up  she added, “I moved here from Maryland and I “know” crab.  Believe me, it is very good.” Now that may sound crazy but two things happened: 1) she related to us by telling us something personal and 2) her insight provided a subtle endorsement of the item.  That’s Customer Engagement 101!  Convince me you know what you are talking about and I trust you.  Relate to me and I’m more likely to buy.  Can your team do the same? It means you are describing to employees – through specific behavior- how to interact with customers that is more focused than your competitors probably do.  Secondly, you are equipping them with knowledge they need to become the expert they need to be.  And if you think most employees understand those principles naturally, think again.  Intentionality is never an accident.

Dining at Indochine was great and it caused me to want to tell you about it.  Hmmm…makes you think. Are customers telling others about their experience with you? There are three possible options: 1) the experience was neither a wow nor a disaster, so why tell anyone? 2) it was terrible so others are given the warning, or 3) they met an “Elizabeth” and had to tell others about it.  Which one describes you?

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