What’s your favorite place to shop? One of my favorites is my local Ace Hardware store. It has a unique combination of the home improvement products you’d expect plus décor items to make your house feel more like a home.
But that is not why I really shop there. What stands out for me and why I love to shop at this store has to do with the people that work there. Sure, the products got me in the door originally, but when I started shopping there and interacting with the employees that work there, I quickly realized this store was different than many other stores because of the way I felt when I was in the store.
The moment you walk in the door, you are greeted (in a sincere way, not the phony tone you so often hear) and asked if you need help locating anything. There is always somebody nearby to ask a question, say hello to me, or asking how your day is going. I feel welcomed, like when you go to a friend’s house.
I recently went to this store to have a key made for my car. Now, there are numerous places to have a key made these days, so I had lots of options to choose from. Again, I chose to go to Ace because I like the way I feel when I am in there, knowing that the employees really care about me and want to serve their customers.
And it isn’t just one or two employees—it is everyone in the store that works there. As I was waiting for the guy to make my key, two different employees walked by me, aware I was waiting, but took a moment to just make small talk with me, letting me know that they noticed me, which made me feel good. So often an employee walks right by you, not even acknowledging you standing there. Ace management has obviously trained their employees to recognize customers and make sure each and every customer feels taken care of.
It’s about the feelings you create
So why does this store have such an impact on me? It is not the products or services that they provide, since they aren’t really unique from other stores or businesses. It is not the price of the items, since they are definitely competitive with others but not the cheapest deal in town. It boils down to the people that work there and how I feel when I am in the store, whether purchasing something or not.
What’s the experience customers have when they interact with your people?
Your competition can replicate your products and services, but it’s your employees that really make or break that shopping experience. Getting them to understand and believe that serving people is their job is the winning ticket. When the customer feels like the employee cares about them, it will bring your customers back and also have them share their experience with others.
Editor’s Note: This guest post by Kathy Cuff is the first in a series looking at exceeding customer satisfaction and loyalty. Kathy, together with Vicki Halsey, are the principal authors of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program. It will appear on the second Thursday of each month.