Customer Service Tactics That Stand the Test of Time for Customer Retention
A person’s first job usually falls into the realm of a customer service role – whether at a retail store, restaurant, or movie theater. Like most people, my first job was at a small mom-and-pop grocery store where I earned $1 an hour doing home grocery deliveries. The grocery store is where I first learned how beneficial it is to connect with people and engage with customers, something I still love doing to this day. I carried this customer service skill to my job at Home Depot, where I worked for 15 years. Maintaining a relationship with my customers is the most important skill I have learned throughout my career, and I truly believe it is one of the biggest contributors to my ongoing success as an entrepreneur.
I first came across Bad Ass Coffee on a trip to Maui in 2001. I went to a Maui shop and immediately fell in love with the coffee and the idea of owning my own location. After about six years of following the brand closely, I decided to take the leap and opened the Rancho Cucamonga Bad Ass Coffee shop in 2009. After opening this location, it was a priority for me to ensure my customers felt at home and could trust me with their everyday coffee needs. Being a customer-centric business has paid off tremendously, because now my location is a top performer in the rapidly growing franchise system.
My success comes from how I treat my customers and how I connect with them every day. Simple things like a warm smile, saying thank you, greeting a customer by name, and striking up a conversation can go a long way with customer retention and building a community around your business. Here are three best practices for creating a community and ultimately a customer for life:
Be present in your business. From getting to know customers by name and learning what they like to order, to thinking outside the box to give them a top-tier experience by writing nice notes on their coffee cups, having a presence adds a human, emotional connection between your customer and your business. Be sure to also always ask for feedback with a comment card or engage with comments on social media – this helps customers know you are actively working to improve every part of your business.
Most importantly, teach your employees how to build and maintain positive relationships with your customers. Your employees are on the front lines and interact with customers daily. When you onboard your team, teach vital communications skills to help your employees facilitate fruitful customer exchanges and maintain customer relations. This may require ongoing training, team building exercises, celebrations, and recognition to help motivate and ensure top-tier customer service is being executed day-in and day-out. By building quality relationships with the people who visit your business, you set yourself up for long-term success in the community.
Become Part of the Community
Most of my employees are children of my regulars who have been coming in with their parents for years. By hiring employees from the community, you build a stronger relationship with the community itself. In the same way I created the customer-to-employee pipeline, the employees will do the same. This also increases local customer retention when guests see a familiar face daily, someone they know and who knows them. This type of warmth and community keeps customers coming back, as it becomes a part of their routine.
Another way to engrain your business into the community is by joining their events. Participate in local farmer's markets, fundraisers, and school events. Pick community organizations that align with your business and build relationships with them. Prove to your neighbors that you’re not just another business on the block, but a goodwill community partner looking to make a real impact.
Even as the owner of a business, you need to have a thorough understanding of the interworking of your operation - do not be afraid to get down and dirty. It is important to be able to do anything you would ask one of your employees to do. This creates a solid community of support behind the counter that is felt by customers on the other side. Everyone in the establishment feels the energy and camaraderie of the team, and making that vibe feel fun, supportive, and cheerful makes customers want to be in the store, and keeps them coming back.
A well-oiled machine creates a positive environment not only for your employees but also for your customers. When things run smoothly, customers notice and respond favorably. Be willing to help the team when you are short-staffed or when you have more customers than employees during a big rush. As cliché as it may seem, teamwork makes the dream work.
Dave Wagner has been the owner of Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii in Rancho Cucamonga for 13 years. He’s an all-star performer who has mastered the art of customer service which led his store to be a top-performer in the Bad Ass Coffee franchise system.
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