We walk into a local restaurant. Before we can be seated, the hostess drags us by the arms over to the breakfast bar.
She stops and points. “Will you look at the size of these strawberries!” she says, overflowing with pride as if she’d spent countless hours growing them in her own garden.
“I have never seen strawberries this big. They look delicious!” she added. Before her passionate presentation, strawberries weren’t even on my radar but after a sales pitch like that how could you not be sold? I was in!
I’m a sucker for passion—people who take pride in the littlest of details (or in this case ginormous strawberries). And unfortunately, that kind of passion is really hard to come by.
With so much talk about “showrooming”—customers going to traditional brick and mortar businesses to look at, touch, and ask questions about products only to purchase them cheaper online—passion is the one thing you just can’t get when you’re ordering from Amazon.
And to me, that creates a competitive advantage.
As a small business owner, you don’t have a choice. If you’re going to survive, you need to captivate your customers. With each and every interaction, you need to completely knock their shoes and socks clean off by providing exemplary customer service.
Back to the restaurant example, I’m sure the hostess wasn’t on some sort of strawberry commission—she was just that passionate about her job and their food. And that’s something that I will always remember!
It all starts with hiring the right people. Some of this can be trained, but from my experiences as a manager and as a consumer, I really believe some of this is also just hard wired.
Look for people who have a proven track record of going above and beyond the call of duty—folks who made something better than it was when they got there.
Once you find them, provide coaching and mentorship that reinforces a culture of customer service and recognize them when they really knock one out of the park.
You have an opportunity to engage with your customers in a way most big-box and online retailers can’t.
You can hire and train a team that knows your products better than anyone else and can share that knowledge one-on-one and face-to-face with a sense of pride and passion.
I’d say that’s rather captivating!
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user José Luis Ruiz]