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Seven Tips to Happy Customers

Greetings Readers! Recently I scrolled through my Foursquare logbook of places visited over the last year. I tend to frequent the same places over and over again. I do like discovering new places and visiting places I have never been to before but my Foursquare timeline tells me there are only a few places I go back to over and over again...and they tend to be coffee shops, cafes and / or restaurants. What this means for those locations is that I am a happy and satisfied customer. More than that, I am a repeat customer which means I am likely to recommend those respective places to friends and family. And we all know that word-of-mouth trumps high-budget marketing any day.

A key reason why I go back to these places is because of the level of customer service rendered, which leads me to this post - Seven Tips to Happy Customers. This is an account of things that make me go "yup, I am definitely coming back here".


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1. Newspapers. One of the first things I look for when I go to a cafe or coffee shop is the newspaper. Let me explain. Everyone loves a little bit of downtime, i.e. time where they can just take a break from the rest of the world. One of the things I do when I have a bit of downtime is to read something. Anything. I will read menus, labels, magazines, tweets, anything...but especially newspapers. I am using newspapers as an example here, but it could be anything which shows your customers that you want them and are ready for them to feel at home. If they feel at home, it means they are comfortable. If they are comfortable, they will come back.

2. Remember Faces. Do not be afraid to say to your customers "Hello. We have not seen you in a while. Where have you been?" It tells the customer that you have noticed they have been missing. In essence, you are telling the customer, "Hey, we miss you". This is a simple one, but it is often the simple things that matter. Mind your tone here by the way. "Where have you been?" and "Where have you been?!" are two very different things.

3. Serve from the Right. I used to work as a waiter in a cafe back in Adelaide. Up to that point, I had never waitered before so I agreed to work for peanuts as long as they agreed to train me. One of the first things they taught me was to serve from the right of the customer, i.e. I would take their order, serve them and clear the tables from the customers' right (or my left). This is based on the assumption that most people are right-handed which makes it more natural to move towards or turn towards our right. Try it with your customers. See what happens. Just make sure you do not ever spill the coffee.


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4. Don't be over Familiar. We have all experienced it. We all know of that one store where the waiter or waitress believes that you guys are soulmates. They are over-polite, over-friendly, over-helpful, over-everything! They linger on at the table and maintain eye-contact for a little longer than they should. Of course, there is a time and place to be friendly and to 'remember faces', but always always try read your customers. It is always better to be invited in for a conversation than for things to get a little awkward.

5. Be Flexible. Even though something is not on the menu, it does not mean you cannot create it for your customer. (Orange mocha frappuccino anyone?) When cafes or restaurants accommodate not-in-the-menu requests, it shows that they are happy to go the extra mile for you. Your customers will love you for it. The opposite is also true. I have been to places where even the slightest modifications are 'not allowed'. An example: the menu said the set meal comes with a milk-coffee. I hardly take milk so I ask for black-coffee. "Sorry sir it is not on the menu". Are you kidding me?

6. Don't be afraid to Up Sell. Do not be afraid to ask your customer whether he wants an upsize, special sauce, dessert, the house special, leather seats, a Bose sound system, etc. If you never ask, you will never know. Plus, when you are serving me and try to up sell, it says to me that you are confident in your product and your brand. More importantly, it says to me you are confident in yourself. Note: the same rule for Point 4 applies here. Do not be pushy.

7. Impress Me. If it is one thing you remember from this post, may this be the point you remember. Aim to impress your customers. Whether you are serving them a cup of black coffee or telling them about the X3, aim to give them an unforgettable experience. Here's the catch. You won't impress someone if you are not prepared. If it is within your control, put in the effort and aim to impress whoever it is you are serving. Like success, excellence is a journey, not a destination.


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