Just the other day I had two extremely different experiences with customer appreciation. One was good; the other not so. As a business etiquette expert, I may be unusually mindful of how business people treat their customers and clients. I love good examples of customer service. I much prefer to experience, to write or to speak about the positive than I do the negative.
Not to give away too many details or to name names, I will only reveal that the one business I was dealing with has a long history with the community and with me as a customer. The other is fairly new to the area as am I as their customer.
The former (long history) refused to budge on a minimal charge that I questioned, possibly the only one in 45 years. The other refused to take my money for a simple purchase and a quick repair—the kind where you wait only minutes—on a small appliance. Their response when I tried to pay was, “Oh no, you’re a good customer. We are happy to help you.” Good customer? I have purchased one or two items with a few accessories from them in the three years. Will I return to the latter? You bet. Will I go back to the former? Not if I can help it.
So how do you show customer appreciation? Do you waive small charges or do you haggle over them? Do you tell your customers how much you appreciate their business or do you take them for granted? Do you exceed your customers’ expectations to let them know they are valuable?
People want to feel they are appreciated. With rare exceptions, they cannot read the business owners’ minds. They can only tell whether they are valued by your words and actions.
A lesson in how to show customer appreciation came during one of my earliest jobs with the legendary Rich’s of Atlanta. Richard Rich’s mantra was “The customer is always right.” We never argued with a customer no matter what the issue, how absurd, how implausible or how unbelievable. It was always handled with a “Yes, Ma’am (Southern manners) or a “Yes, Sir.”
Today’s lessons learned:
- Tell your customers how much you appreciate their business.
- Show your customers by your actions that your words are sincere.
- Keep in mind that the customer keeps you in business.
- Consider what the customer’s business is worth to you.
- Make sure all your employees are on board with you.
Business etiquette is the cornerstone of profit and success. It is grounded in courtesy, kindness and respect for others.
I would love to know how you show customer appreciation.
Here’s to your success and profitability!
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.
Contact her via email at email@example.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.
Great advice, as always, Lydia.
I’d like to add the importance of businesses empowering their staff to make on the spot decisions and use their best judgment in handling a customer. As a former retail store owner, where we prided ourselves on our exceptional service, we always empowered our staff to make those decisions… to offer a discount or make an adjustment on the price of something if they thought it would serve our customers. And we told them we would trust and back up their decision. The only thing we would not back up was rudeness to our customers.
Our staff never abused that trust. We had a great team.
Thank you, Karen, for your comment. If everyone ran their business the way you ran yours, all would thrive and prosper. Customers would be happy and business owners would see the benefit in the bottomline.