Knowing Your Customers is a Wise Investment

My friend and fellow Central Iowa Blogger, Doug Mitchell wrote a great post about his experience at Panera U. He’s been a loyal customer for some time, but is beginning to flirt with taking his regular business elsewhere. Why? Because after months of being a daily presence (usually staying several hours), no one on the staff even knows his name. I understand Doug completely. I’ve had a similar experience at my local coffee shop.

One of the small service elements that our group often inserts into our Service Quality Assessment scale is greeting the customer by name. Why? Because people like to do business with someone who knows them and recognizes them as a person. Doug’s experience is a classic example.

Which reminds me of another post I just read by Mark Riffey. Mark’s favorite Montana town is getting a Wal-Mart and Mark provides some great advice for small business owners on how to compete against the low price behemoth. His Step 5 is priceless, and it speaks directly to what Doug is saying. Know your customers. Greet them by name immediately when they walk through the door. Get to know them, their family, their needs, their business. People will pay extra for it.

Flickr photo courtesy of keener2u

  10 comments for “Knowing Your Customers is a Wise Investment

  1. January 16, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Many companies provide excellent service..but to paraphrase Starbuck’s revolutionary founder Howard Shultz, “We’re not a coffee company, we’re a people company that happens to serve coffe”. Develop a culture of connectedness and the business follows. Thanks Tom.

  2. January 16, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Your post reminds me of the value of speaking and feeling heard — so that we help others to do the same. Great stuff and thanks, Tom! You model these thoughts in every post – which makes it a cool site to visit for some zip!

  3. January 16, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks Tom.
    Doug is right on the money re: Starbucks as a people company that serves coffee. There’s still so much room (and market share) for businesses that understand what they *really* do – regardless of the marketplace they are in.

  4. January 16, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    It’s always heartening to go to a client meeting and return to find such great comments by incredibly excellent bloggers. Thanks to the three of you.
    Doug, I saw that someone had recommended Grounds for Celebration. I’m glad to hear they’ve added wi-fi. George, the owner, is first rate as is his coffee. I was a regular there when I lived in WDM – but hated that they didn’t have wi-fi. I’d second that recommendation. Let me know, I’ll meet you there for a cup of their “Luna Tango” roast – my personal favorite.

  5. January 16, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Seven Ways To Beat Bigger Competitors

    Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. —Dale Carnegie’s 6th Human Relations Principle Tom Vander Well at QA QnA has a great story to tell about a business losing…

  6. January 16, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Customers Don’t Want Anymore One Night Stands

    Tom Vander Well of QAQnA has a great post about the value of knowing your customers. His post made me think about the bigger picture – that business is the art of creating relationships. People arent looking for one night…

  7. January 19, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Thanks for highlighting this issue, Tom. The sad thing is that if Doug leaves Panera, no one will even know why. Companies don’t take the time to find out what they are doing right or could improve; they just assume more customers will come along to replace those that walk out. How refreshing it would be to have companies really work to develop relationships with their customers.
    Great link to the post by Mark Riffey; you had me thinking about it in the car yesterday!

  8. January 29, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Information Overload: Drowning in a Sea of Inspiration

    Everyone around me is overwhelmed by information and I am no exception. My desk is

  9. January 29, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Information Overload: Drowning in a Sea of Inspiration

    Everyone around me is overwhelmed by information and I am no exception.
    My desk is overflowing with invoices, statements, memos, meeting minutes, reports, articles and books. Post-its® decorate my computer at work and at home. Somewhere in there, I ha…

  10. April 16, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    You have to treat your customers like human beings, one of the cardinal rules of busines…

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