When I lived in Boston, I frequented one local bar, Cornwall’s. It was just around the corner from my apartment. The people were friendly, the food was delicious, and they had one of my favorite beers, Tuckerman Brewing Company Pale Ale. But what really made me come to love Cornwall’s was that after only a few visits, the bartender, Billy, remembered me and my order. Before I even sat down at the bar, he would already have my beer waiting for me. I felt like the most important customer.
I know there were people who had been frequenting Cornwall’s long before me. And there were people who visited more often than me. But Billy still remembered my order. It was honestly one of the places I missed the most when I moved out of the city. Remembering my preference made me feel like royalty and turned me from just a regular customer into a loyal fan of Cornwall’s.
You can do the same thing in your business! You can make your customers feel like royalty and take them from just another visitor to a dedicated customer. All you have to do is personalize their experience. I have four easy techniques you can start trying with the next person who walks in the door.
One, find out their name and use it! Research shows that if you use someone’s name several times in conversation you are more likely to remember it. If your business is a fitness studio or salon, you’ll ask someone’s name when they are checking in. But then, instead of just saying “You’re all set,” personalize the greeting and try something like “Lindsay, you are all checked in for today.” Or “Feel free to take a seat Lindsay, and we’ll be right with you.”
If you are in a retail business, as you are ringing in someone’s purchase, strike up a conversation. Ask them their name and introduce yourself. You can say something like “It’s so nice to meet you Ellen. Is this purchase for yourself or is it a gift?” And when you had them their bag close the visit and use their name again; “Thank you for shopping with us today Ellen! I hope to see you again soon.”
Start making this a habit. You’ll be surprised by how easy it will become to use your customer’s names in the various interactions you have with them. And your customers will notice and feel special and important because you remember who they are.
The second way to personalize the customer experience is by finding out what their interests are. Imagine you were going to become friends with your customer. What things would you want to know about them? This has nothing to do with making a sale, at least not yet. This is just about making your customer to feel welcome and important. Often you can pick up clues based on what they are looking at or what they are wearing. Are they wearing a t-shirt or hat that supports a sports team? Use that as a starting point for your conversation. Did they come in with a dog? My dog, Quincy, has a favorite store in town because it always offers him a dog bone. Make my dog feel special, and you’ve made me feel special! You want to be able to have small talk with your customers in order to discover their interests. Getting to know them in this way shows you have an interest in who they are as a person and that you don’t just seem them as a potential sale.
In addition to their interests, the third way you can personalize the customer experience is by knowing their preferences. This is especially applicable if you are in a business that provides a service like a hair salon, fitness studio, or restaurant. Your customer wants that service provided in a way that makes them happy and meets their needs. Ask them a few questions to understand what they prefer. In a restaurant this is all about the flavors and dishes they prefer. Or in a fitness studio, do they tend to come to a certain class? Ask why they prefer that class. It may be about the time, the instructor, the style of class. Get to know why they make those choices. And if you sell a product, getting to know your customers preferences goes back to small talk again. Finding out the purpose of their shopping. Who are they shopping for? Is it for a particular use? All these questions, no matter your industry, are providing you insight into what makes that customer unique.
Take all these practices, using their name and learning their interests and preferences, and you are going to be able to make an amazing, custom recommendation. And that’s my fourth and final tip. Customers feel important when they believe they are getting something just for them. A personalized recommendation is an excellent way to achieve that feeling. How you deliver this recommendation is what makes the difference between a sales pitch and feeling like royalty. The main subject of a sales pitch is the product. The main subject of a royal recommendation is the customer. Here are a few examples.
Sales pitch: These new notebooks are on sale this week and I think you’d like it.
Royal recommendation: Andrea I know you love to keep track of your upcoming travel plans. How cute are these notebooks? I think the blue floral one is your style! And best part, it’s on sale today.
Sales pitch: We are offering a new class starting next week. I hope you’ll check it out.
Royal recommendation: I know you love afternoon workouts Mark and we are actually offering a new strength training class at 4:00pm. It would fit well into your routine! I hope you will check it out.
Now you know the 4 easy things you can do to turn just an everyday customer interaction into the royal treatment. And it’s so easy! So, with the next customer who walks through your doors, I challenge you to:
learn their name
use their name
find out something they like or a preference
make a custom recommendation
Before you know it, all your customers will be coming back knowing that at your business, they feel like royalty!