In the middle of a very hot day last summer, I was looking for a part for my old car in a junkyard in north St. Louis. I walked past a woman sitting in a van. She offered me a bottle of cold water. Turns out she was stationed there to hand out water to people like me, so we wouldn’t pass out. Totally unexpected; greatly appreciated.
I recently took my new car to the dealer for its first oil change. Arriving at 8:00 a.m., I expected to find one service agent and a long line of cars. Instead they had 5 service agents and my job was written up in seconds. Then, when I paid, I went to the same guy. Generally, dealers send you to a cashier who always has to look through a huge stack to find your paperwork and may have difficulty answering questions. Unexpected; appreciated.
(The dealership followed up with a phone call the next day to make sure the service had been satisfactory. The day after that, I received a letter making sure that my customer experience had been satisfactory.)
The Crossing restaurant in Clayton, brings a complimentary Blue Cheese Souffle to each table during dinner service as soon as diners are seated. When spread on the accompanying toast points, this treat is just enough to stimulate the appetite without filling the tummy. It also helps get the customer experience off on the right foot. Great food and beverages are important in the restaurant biz, but the entire dining experience is what brings diners back.
Put yourself in your customer’s place. Can he or she get a comparable service or product elsewhere? What can you do to make your customer keep coming back? Empathy for your customer makes it possible for you to do things your competition cannot do or chooses not to do. Providing value and results is vital, but the experience the customer has when dealing with you and your business can be a major factor in determining your success.