In Business, Nice Guys Finish First

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A basic premise of sales and marketing tells us that it is far cheaper to keep a loyal customer than it is to sell and market to new ones. While this is such a basic concept, I’ve noticed that many companies aren’t treating their existing customers like the treasures they are.

Why is that? Is morale low? Are employees being so overworked that no one is paying attention to how customers are being treated? Have organizations cut their employee numbers so much that good customer service is a thing of the past?

As an example, I purchase my groceries at Publix. The stores are bright and cheerful, and the customer service has always been outstanding. Sadly, I’ve noticed over the past few months that the staff hasn’t been as helpful or knowledgeable as usual at my local Publix. A few weeks ago, I went to the cash register to check out, and not only did the bagger not help me move my groceries from the basket to the belt, but the bagger and the checker were so engrossed in conversation that neither of them bothered to acknowledge me in any way. They continued with their conversation about the checker’s girlfriend until the belt was empty and the checker grunted my total. I now shop at a different Publix, as I absolutely don’t want to give that particular location my money.

On the other hand, the best example of customer service I have seen in a long time was on Royal Caribbean Cruises. My family and I are frequent cruisers. We are all Crown and Anchor Society members and have reached high status levels, which entitle us to some rewards. Despite our status, however, on the past several cruises, we encountered a lackadaisical crew, rude servers, and an overall nonchalant feeling regarding customer service.

But I’m happy to report that after getting off the Enchantment of the Seas last Monday, I have a renewed love for cruising. Royal Caribbean International must have sent out a message about how important customers are, because from the moment we boarded the ship until the time we got off, every single member of the crew was cheerful, helpful, and enthusiastic about their jobs. From our cabin steward who magically helped make our bed more comfortable (if anyone from RCI is reading this, it’s time to retire the mattresses in cabin 4541), to the bartender who delivered drinks to our table so that we wouldn’t have to make multiple trips, to the tender attendant who helped get my daughter’s stroller up and down the stairs…I was blown away.

I’d like to share with you the FREE things that the crew did to make us feel so special, and how you can apply these to your business.

1. We were greeted with a hello and a smile from everyone. No one waited for us to say hello first. Keep up the engagement and enthusiasm with your clients.

2. One evening, we went for a casual buffet dinner. One of the servers who was in charge of bussing tables gathered a tray full of chocolate covered strawberries from the bar and delivered them to the tables and thanked us for being on board. What extra bit of service and token of appreciation can you give your clients?

3. My mom drinks iced tea. At dinner when we were seated, there was always a glass of tea waiting for her. How can you anticipate your clients’ needs before they ask?

4. The crew catered to the needs of my 15-month-old. They always had a highchair on-hand, a snack to keep her busy so we could relax, and when she started to fuss, someone always came over to try to entertain her. When dealing with difficult mothers of the bride or other wedding participants who make a fuss, what can you do to reduce the stress of your couples?

Being a customer-friendly business will put you ahead of your competition and will increase your sales by leaps and bounds. Apply some of these ideas and let me know how they work for you!

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