Jessica gets it. The value of customer service, that is. This young coffee shop barista made my day recently when I rushed into a local bookstore to pick up a copy of a trade journal. When I could not find it on the rack, I saw her in an aisle and asked her to help me. She immediately put down what she was doing and came to my aid. When she could not find the magazine in the usual spot, she asked if I’d like for her to check on it for me. As we walked toward the computer which was behind the counter of the in-store coffee shop adjacent to the magazine racks, she asked if I would like to get one of their blackberry cream lattes. I told her “No, thank you,” but as she looked up the magazine, I noticed she had placed a table tent on the counter showing an irresistible photo of this special coffee drink of the week. Though she found there were no more issues of the magazine in the store, she sold me the latte. While she made it, she asked if I would like a snack with it, perhaps one of their fresh blueberry scones. I told her, “No, thank you, but you will sell lots more scones if you ask everyone that.” Every time Jennifer asked me anything, she looked right at me and smiled. She asked for my store perks card, and when I gave it to her, she began to use my name, as printed on the card. She returned the card to me wrapped in a small folder that offered me my eighth cup of joe free. When my coffee drink was ready, she announced my name and the coffee drink as if I were royalty for whom she had a special gift. She thanked me for taking the time to come in that day. I took a sip with foam on my upper lip and thought, “Got Customer Service”!

So what customer service did Jessica provide that was so out of the ordinary? Lots! Here are three of the things she did that set her apart:

  • She went out of her way to help the customer. She could have just glanced at the periodicals rack and said, “Sorry, we don’t seem to have that magazine.” But she offered to look it up even though I doubt that is on the job description of coffee shop service rep.
  • She asked and asked again. In five short minutes, she asked me all kinds of questions. Because of it, she sold me on her product, her service, and her store.
  • She personalized our interaction with friendly professionalism. Once she learned my name, she used it in a friendly, courteous manner. With a genuine smile, she thanked me for taking my time to be there, as if I were doing her a favor.

Your customers are your strongest source of referrals and repeat business. What are you doing to go the extra mile for them? Are you initiating periodic contact, inviting them to special events, providing a stream of information that communicates not only valuable resources to them, but supports your positioning as the helpful, knowledgeable resource they can trust? Are you asking what your customers need, and – perhaps more important – what they expect that they are not yet receiving? How – and how often – are you asking for referrals? What programs do you have in place to reward your customers for referrals, recognize them for their loyalty, and reassure them that they are getting the maximum value possible? Are you treating your customers like you really appreciate them and what they mean to your business? Once a week, ask yourself, “What have I done lately to show my customers how much I value them?”

I walked out of the bookstore without the magazine, but smiling and glad Jessica had passed through my day. Will I return? Absolutely, and especially when Jessica is there. Will I tell all sorts of others about this exceptional customer service experience? I just did.

See Julie’s seminar on Customer Retention

Julie Wassom