For the last few years I’ve visited my local Salad Works about once a week. Even though the soups and salads are good, the primary reason I go because is because of Erin, Mirian and Cathy.
It doesn’t matter when I come in, they are always there greeting me with an “Hola Sonia!,” or “Hey Sonia!,” and of course always with a smile. They know what I want – BLT salad with ranch dressing mixed in and whole grain bread. Mirian even taught me how to say my order in spanish.
These ladies treat me well. They know what I like. They’re calm. They’re patient. They’re sweet, and when I walk in the door they seem genuinely happy to see me. I’m generally not in the building for longer than 5 minutes at a time, but seeing them is always a bright spot in my day.
And the beauty of it for me is that they don’t just treat me this way, they are this way with everyone.
Erin, Mirian and Cathy get it. When you treat customers well and build a relationship with them, they’re bound to come back. Again and again. And as a business owner, that’s what you want right?
I pose that question because I find that the Erin’s, Mirian’s and Cathy’s of the world don’t seem to be the norm. I always find myself a little annoyed when I go into stores regularly and see the same workers over and over again, with no connection with them whatsoever (sure, building a relationship is a two-way street, but as the customer it isn’t my responsibility to make the first move). If I go to a store, or bank, or wherever every week, I don’t want to feel like a stranger to the people I interact with. But too often, I feel like a number. Invisible even. And as a result, the experience leaves much to be desired. I often leave those establishments with no desire to return.
Your customers are the reason why your business exists. So why not treat them well? Why not treat them like you actually want them to come back? To do this, you have to make them feel good. At the very least, make them feel better than they did than when they walked in the door.
A major key to keeping your customers coming back to you again and again is to build a relationship with them. Building a relationship with your customers requires the same principles as building a relationship with anyone you meet. Its not hard, and doing some of the basics such as being happy to see them, not treating them like strangers, and remembering what they like can make a big difference.
It’s the simple things. But little things go a long way when it comes to making your customers want to come back. Because getting your customers to come back is what you want, right?