Wow Your New Customers With These Eight Fantastic Tips For First Impressions!

You only have three seconds to make a first impression. That’s right. THREE.

Don’t believe me? The next time you encounter a stranger, start the countdown and decide how long it takes for you to form an impression of them. And within that nearly non-existent amount of time you too will be completely evaluated, the person on the receiving end will be scrutinizing everything from body language, mannerisms, physical/verbal, and every other little detail from your haircut to your shoes.

It’s only human nature to do so. We’re visual creatures, and the visual perception leaves a strong imprint. How come so many people blow it? Well, because we have many opportunities to blow it – via telephone, in person, or even on the Internet.

Consider the following example, which happened many years ago in a jewelry store. I always make it a point to support small businesses whenever possible and had decided to make a planned purchase at a local jewelry store rather than a large franchised operation.

I entered the store, a small but empty showroom where no one greeted me. After several minutes, an employee finally emerged from the back room. I could hear the television playing and it sounded like a commercial had come on. She asked if she could help me. I said, “I am looking for a heart necklace,” and she showed me the case where they were displayed.

It was then that the phone rang. From the tone of voice and conversation, it was obviously a personal friend. I heard that her daughter had a problem with a teacher, that she had forgotten to take the hamburger out of the freezer, and the fact that oh-how-she-wished that she weren’t at work.

At the end of her phone conversation, she returned to the back room for some reason. When she returned after a short time, she asked, “Have you made a decision?” I smiled and said, “Yes,” and I turned around and left the store.

Now, what’s wrong with this picture? Several things. See how you can avoid making those mistakes; check out these following eight tips on how to give your customer a great first impression:

1. Never, ever, EVER chew gum. And I mean never. While chewing gum itself may freshen your breath, the act of chewing gum shows contempt for your customer.

2. No matter how bad you feel, smile. It won’t kill you! Your customer may feel lousy, too, or they might be having a horrible day. Maybe their dad is in the hospital or their dog just died. But a smile and a warm greeting from you may be the thing they need right now, and it will keep them coming back.

Oh, and by the way, smiling makes YOU feel better. Try it. Right now. See? Don’t you feel better now?

3. Remember – every customer who walks through your door should be the most important thing that has happened all day. Be sure to treat them that way!

4. Even if you’re busy when the customer arrives, acknowledge their presence and let them know you’ll be with them shortly. There’s nothing worse than being ignored when you arrive and made to feel like you are a secondary consideration to the important task at hand!

5. If the customer needs to wait, ask if they would like anything to drink while they wait like water, coffee, or tea. They’ll feel more at home.

6. Engage your customer in small talk, but be sure to not talk TOO much. They don’t want to hear about your life story or the latest information about your surgery or health.

7. Learn to love your customers and enjoy having them around, and DO NOT look or act bored! Whether you think the customer is important or not, THEY think that they are. Don’t let them think that they’re not important!

8. If a customer comments on the beautiful weather, NEVER reply with, “Yeah, too nice to be working!” These comments reflect badly on the company and make the customer feel uncomfortable.

If you follow these tips and keep in mind that the customer is #1, you will be amazed at how your customers will respond. And who knows? That very customer may tell all their family and friends how great you are, and you could generate even more business. Remember, it’s ALL about the attitude!

Schnucks – You Win Some, You Lose Some!

Okay, so really, is it THAT tough to at least acknowledge the customer in front of you?

I was shopping at the Granite City Schnucks on Sunday, and twice I asked people for assistance – one person in the frozen foods section for pie crusts and one for some pre-made chicken.  Both took the time to take me there.  WOW.  Loved that!  They didn’t just point to where the items were, but they actually TOOK me there!

Then the checkout process began.  No greeting.  No eye contact.  Nothing.  I could not believe it.  Now the interesting part here is that my mom has had MULTIPLE experiences at this location with the same issue and last week, she actually spoke with a manager who said they were “working on it.” Well, apparently, that training has not started.  I did get, “Have a good day,” and eye contact when he handed me the receipt.  But nothing else, not even from the bagger!

Here is my question – you have competitors right down the street.  You have to wonder what it is that you can do to stand out.  I would say it begins with ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Longhorn -1, Red Lobster – 0

People, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – perception is EVERYTHING! The last three lunch visits at Red Lobster (twice in Alton, once in Fairview Heights) have ended up the same way.  I get there, ask for a table for one and they hand me a blinking thing and say, “It will be twenty minutes.” But upon closer observation, there are no less than ten (yes, ten) tables available.

So one would say – do they want you to spend money at the bar?  Are they short staffed yet again?  Could the manager and two others who are seating you assist the waiters?

The last two times I stayed but this time I did not.  I could not believe they were asking me to wait with about twenty others, and they had all of these tables open.

So I went down the street to Longhorn.  They took me right in, sat me down, and I had a great waiter.  I explained what I did for a living and told him about my experience at Red Lobster.  He did note that they were a parent company and explained that it could have been a shortage of waiters.  So, I offered this – “Could they have just given each waiter one more table?”  He laughed and totally knew where I was coming from.

Come on, Red Lobster – why are you making us wait for those delicious cheesy biscuits?!

 

Oh, Walgreens, You’re Definitely Doing It Right!

Okay, so, I’ve always been fond of Walgreens, but as some of you might know from reading my last blog, I’ve become quite a fan of them! And really, what’s not to love about this wonderful place? You can obtain your prescriptions from them there, pick up a couple of items you might need, and even print off your pictures.

Here’s another thing that I love, love, LOVE about Walgreens – they are truly stepping up to the plate in delivering excellent customer service. Not only did they help me with all of my picture developing needs a week or so ago, but they have also developed an amazing app for smart phones that helps their customers do their shopping more easily!

And I’m not the only person who loves this app. Tweetheart TV’s very own Stephanie Wonderlin, one of the top 100 Women in Social Media, raves about the app on her Tweetheart TV review. You can check out her review of the app here.

The app, which is available on Apple, Android, and Blackberry smart phones, has nine different features, which include pharmacy, photo, store locator, coupons, refill by scan, scanner, shopping list, weekly ads, and shop. Now that’s convenience!

If you’re sick with a sinus infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, or whatever, one of the last things you feel like doing is getting off the couch to go get your medicine from a pharmacy, let alone wait in line to receive said medication around other sick people. Well, now Walgreens helps eliminate the need to wait in line for the medication with their app! All you have to do is scan in your medication bar via your phone camera, or you can simply type in your prescription’s numbers. Afterward, manage and edit your pick up location and time for your refill. Easy, right?

It gets better. Walgreens exceeds my expectations even further with their photo app! You can upload the pictures you want to develop directly from your phone to the Walgreens app, and then you can pick up your pictures at the closest Walgreens location near you! This makes for developing pictures on the road SO much easier as you don’t even need a computer! So now you can come home from your weekend trip with your friends and show your family your adventures with pictures in hand!

Oh, and did you know that Walgreens also exceeds in getting back to their customers on social media? Recently, I tweeted to them about the great experience I had at their store, and they replied to me rather quickly! Here’s what I said:

“#Customerservice done right! Thank you @Walgreens!”  I also added a link to the blog I wrote about them last week.

To that, Walgreens replied to me, “This is great to hear! Thank you!” And not only that, but they actually retweeted my message so others could see! Now THAT’S customer service done right!

So Walgreens, you’ve heard it from me – I’m very proud of how you’ve been handling your customer service, and I encourage you to keep up the great work! To everyone else out there, I challenge you to step up and provide excellent customer service to your customers. If all else fails, just channel Walgreens, and you’ll be on the right track!

Cracker Barrel Takes you There- Literally!

 

I must admit – I am indeed a Cracker Barrel fan.  They have wonderfully crusted macaroni and cheese.  And, of course, thick cut bacon.  And you can’t forget the Coca Cola cake with ice cream!  I mean, who doesn’t love a good meal?!

But my experience did not stop at just a great meal when I was at the O’Fallon Cracker Barrel.  In this particular experience, I do not believe I could have improved anything in any way.

As I entered the lobby, of course, I heard the usual, “Welcome to Cracker Barrel,” but this greeting was a bit different.  The employee looked up and beamed at me; I could really tell that she had a smile in her voice, too.

As I approached the hostess station, I was greeted by a smiling, friendly face who said, “Welcome to Cracker Barrel! How many are in your party?” As he came out from behind the station, he walked over to the picture of the special of the day and explained the special while drawing my eye to the picture with his hands. He then said that the hostess would take me to my seat.

Yep, here’s where it gets good.

Usually, a person walking you to your table walks ahead of you and is waiting for you when you get to the table.  This is what I would usually call a missed opportunity but not in this case.  You see, the person actually walked with me and had a REAL conversation!  Wow, almost unheard of!  (By the way, businesses often tell me they do not have time to walk with the customer, to which I say, “It takes the same amount of time to wait for them there as it does to walk, talk, and build a relationship for ten seconds.”)

The hostess let us know the name of our waitress and quietly stepped away.  About ten seconds later an extremely friendly waitress approached and asked for my drink order.  You just knew by looking and talking with her that she loved her job and clearly did it very well.  I decided on a new dish, requesting the bacon be a bit crisp and sour cream on the side.  My tea was never left empty.  She just unassumingly slid in and filled it.

Oh, and when my food arrived – it included EVERYTHING I asked for.

Here is another WOW.  As I was finishing up my meal the waitress approached with another waiter, to let me know that her shift was ending and she wanted to introduce me to my new waiter.  WOW!  Really!  Okay, so get this, HE was just as friendly as SHE was!  It was crazy.  I just sat there in awe of it all.

As I finished up my plate, the waiter said, “Are you finished with your plate?” and I said, “I am thinking I couldn’t lick anything more off that plate,” and he responded with, “So no room for pineapple upside cake?”  WOW – an upsell.  So, of course, with that being said, I felt the need to – well, I HAD to order a dessert at that time, but made the choice of the Coca Cola Cake with ice cream.

At this point, I couldn’t hold back any more.  So, when he came back to the table, I gave him a card and explained that I owned my own customer service company and I wanted him to know that I would be blogging about him on my website.  When he brought the check and on my way out, I stopped to talk with the manager.  He was extremely grateful for my feedback, and it just so happened that others from the management team were at the table.  Every single one of them was nicer than the other.

What made this complete experience a WOW was just that – it was a complete experience.  Every detail was handled, every script was utilized (though without feeling scripted), and even the restroom was clean (An unclean restroom would have thrown this whole experience out the door.).

It’s true that you remember the lowest level of experience you’ve ever received.  I now challenge you to find something in this experience that wasn’t a WOW!  So, O’Fallon Cracker Barrel, I am going to say words that will just make your day – “I’ll be back!”

Walgreens Photo Department – There to Assist, For Sure!

 

I admit it – uploading photos to a website is not my forte, but I try.  So, I have an account through Walgreens, and once I became familiar with how to do it, I actually liked the fact that I could order from home then go and pick them up.

So, I went through, uploaded a few photos, and then finished the checkout process (or at least I thought I did).  Apparently my lack of patience came through because clicking the submit button multiple times does NOT mean it is going to work faster.  But, I assumed (yep, mistake) that it worked, so off I ventured to Walgreens in Troy.  But, just in case clicking the button meant multiple orders, I called Walgreens to let the employee know that I only needed one order and, well, not fifteen (which is probably how many times I clicked!).

I thought it would be an in-quick and out-quick transaction.  I approached the counter and they could not find my order.  I was on my way to visit the people for whom I needed the pictures.  There was just no time to run home so I figured I would just not have the pictures.

Then out steps Daniel. He said, “Well, let’s just have you log into your account, and we can print them now.”

Now, I openly admit, I have zero common sense (really, I don’t), and never in a million years would that thought have crossed my mind, but clearly, I was in contact with someone who GETS customer service.  So I logged in, and he pulled up my order, and within five minutes I had the pictures in my hands.

There were more amazing things that happened while I was there.  While my pictures were being printed, he was assisting another customer whom I heard earlier say, “He always helps me, so I am going to wait on him.” Wow! Daniel must be like a rock star, and I felt privileged to have him wait on me.

As I left I gave Daniel my card and said, “I am a customer service trainer, and I am going to blog about you.  Here is my website.”  And here we are today!

By the way, the people were so happy to receive their pictures and without Daniel’s help, it just would not have happened.

Are You a Job RENTER or a Job OWNER?

 

It never fails. Your alarm goes off way before you ever dream to get out of bed, and you grudgingly drag yourself out of your warm, cozy haven. Yep. It’s Monday, all right. “Ugh, another day at the office. Fantastic. Well, at least it’s a paycheck. Still, I wish I could crawl back into bed!” you think as you slovenly dress yourself, brush your teeth, and lumber out the door, only to arrive at work ten minutes late.

Meanwhile, miles away, your colleague willingly jumps out of bed as soon as the alarm clock rings, which is before the sunrise. She eagerly readies herself and is looking forward to another productive, exciting day at her job. In fact, she’s even made a strict to-do list on what she must accomplish during the week (oh, and that was made last week). And to top it all off, she leaves her house with plenty of time to spare and arrives at work ten minutes early, as usual.

Do you see something wrong with this picture? Are you more like the first employee than the second one? Then it’s time to make some changes, stat!

You might have spotted some differences between the first and second employee. One thing that you might not be aware of is that the first employee is a great example of a job RENTER, and the second employee is the quintessence of a job OWNER.

So what are the differences between people who OWN their job versus those who RENT their job? Simply put, the job owners really care about their job while the job renters are only there for the paycheck. Those who “own” their jobs will accept full responsibility for projects even when they’re not formally assigned to them, take initiative in their job, and fully believe in their job’s mission. Those who “rent” their jobs will view their line of work as “just a job” or “a paycheck” and, if a project is given to them that they typically don’t do, they tend to respond with, “That’s not my problem.”

Here’s a perfect example of a job “renter.” A restaurant manager walks around to the tables, visiting with the customers and asking if everything is okay. A table of four all had steaks. He asks how the steaks were. The first three people said, “Good,” but the fourth person said, “It was okay.” The manager then moves on to the next table without comment.

What could he have done differently? Well, first of all, the manager should NEVER have been satisfied with, “It was okay.” He should have asked if there was a problem, offered to have another steak prepared, offered a free drink or dessert, anything to show that he was really listening and cared about the customer’s experience.  Unfortunately, the manager was a job RENTER, and at least one of those customers probably walked out of the restaurant with a sour taste in his mouth.

All workers should strive to be job OWNERS, no matter which job they have. Just keep this in the back of your mind for inspiration – if the business that you work for were the business you OWNED, what would you do differently? Here are some thoughts:

*Really get to know the customers

*Figure out money-saving methods for the business

*Likewise, increase revenue for the business

*Treat employees and others with respect

*Constantly market the business

*Do whatever it takes to keep the customer coming back

The list is endless. Great employees think like business owners. Strive to be GREAT!

First Impressions – Things That Make Me Go “Hmmmmm…”

 

*I stop into a gas station and the employees are eating at the counter. (Do I really want to smell the sausage and sauerkraut and then have you touch my money?)

*An employee lays their arms on the counter, folded, and looks at you like you are interrupting. (Go home!)

*The front door has not been wiped down in, say, years. (Wipe it, for goodness sakes.)

*The employee barely speaks to the customer, much less anyone else in the group. (Hint: If you speak to my child, I would love you forever.)

*The gas station has two registers and at the busiest time you can imagine, they shut one cash register to count it out. (Couldn’t you have an extra drawer ready and just slide the next employee in?)

*An employee CONTINUES to text, even once you have reached the counter. (Why do employees have phones with them?)

Okay, I feel much better!

An ALMOST Good Idea

I had lunch at St. Louis Bread Company today. When they took my order, they asked my name (vs. giving me an alert box). I thought, “WOW, they want to build relationships with the customers, asking their name and using it.”

So as I was leaving, I asked the young lady at the counter if they had taken a step toward exceeding the customer’s expectation by using their name. She said, “No, I think the boxes are broken.”

Alrighty then. Well, they ALMOST had a good idea!

Do you use your customers’ names?

Great Service… ALMOST

 

I had the opportunity to go into the Dress Barn at the Mills on Christmas Eve. As I entered, a very nice lady asked if she could help me, and I said, “I’m just looking.” She continued to straighten clothes. She was dressed perfectly with a nice outfit, jewelry that matched her outfit very well, and a very friendly smile.

I found a shirt that I liked and called her over to ask her if she could help me find my size. She found my size and asked if I would like to try it on, and I said, “Yes, but let me get some more stuff together,” and she quietly went away.

I found a couple of other items, and she showed me to the dressing room. My original item had already been placed in a room, and then she wrote my name on my door and said, “If there is anything else you need, just let me know.” After I was almost finished trying on items, she came in and said, “Is there anything I can get for you?” to which I replied, “No, thanks.”

As I came out of the dressing room, I noticed her again straightening clothes. It was great to not see a sales clerk just standing around but actually helping make the store look even better. As we continued to look, she smiled, and it just felt like the most perfect service I could have received, so I approached her and said, “I am a customer service trainer, and I wanted to let you know that I acknowledge service professionals when they exceed my expectations and when they really fall short. Today you were just perfect, and I wanted to give you my card.”

I am not kidding when I tell you that her face completely lit up. You would’ve thought I just gave her a million dollars. She said, “Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much; you completely made my day!”

We chatted for a brief moment, and I gave her my card. She said, “My boss is right over there if you wouldn’t mind telling her.” I said, “Of course.”

As we approached, her boss was talking with another employee. The employee tapped her boss on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, this lady would like to speak with you.”

I couldn’t believe it. Her boss kept talking with the other employee!

Finally, she half-turned to me, and I said, “I just wanted to tell you that I am a customer service trainer, and today your employee provided fantastic service.” Are you ready for this?  The manager said, “Okay,” and turned back around. I said, “No, really, she was fantastic today,” and still, she only half-way turned and said, “Okay.” I could tell the employee was completely embarrassed.

As I walked away, I thought, “They have the wrong employee in the manager position.” UGH!