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Chris LoCurto

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January 28, 2013

How Not To Lose A Customer

January 28, 2013 | By | 37 Comments">37 Comments

In my blog post, Life Is Spent Waiting On The Wave, I talked about being in Southern California speaking to a large group about an upcoming event.

Money in Pocket

While we were in So Cal we agreed on two things: we would get to the beach and we would eat well.
And when I’m in California…I eat well!
I don’t care what it takes, I will find a great place even if I have to drive hours to get there. (Which we did.)

One night in particular, we found an incredible little sushi place a couple of blocks from the ocean.
Since we were still on Tennessee time we got there a few hours early, and there was already a line!
This told us we found the right place.

Let me say, the food was worth the wait. Not only did we have some of the best sushi I’ve ever had, it was also some of the most creative I’ve ever seen.

On top of that the staff was well versed in the menu and suggested some incredible dishes.
Well worth the time of standing in line.

As we left, the line had doubled in size down the sidewalk.
We turned to walk toward the beach when we saw a group of people leave.
They appeared to make it all the way to the front, only to be a little too frustrated with the wait time.

As they walked away, one of the ladies who worked at the restaurant went running after them.
She stopped them and assured them that they could accomodate their group.

I was stunned! And incredibly proud.
Here was a restaurant that obviously was NOT hurting for customers, and this lady ran down the sidewalk to save this one group.
And their reputation as well.

I mean seriously, most places would have looked at their wait line and told that group, “Oh well! Sorry ’bout ya.”
All because she saw the value of the customer that was right in front of her.

Too many times we have team members who don’t understand that each customer adds to the ability for that business to pay the team! Therefore, go out of your way, even if that means running down the street, to get the sale.

I commend that team member, and the leadership who taught her well.

Question: What do you think of a team member who goes to that length to save a customer?

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  • http://www.DavidASpecht.com/ David A Specht

    I had someone correct me when I used the term “customer.” He said that a customer is someone you may see one time, sell them and never see again. A client is someone who you have an ongoing relationship where both parties win. Looks like this restaurant’s team member saw “clients” leaving.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    That’s the kind of person I want on my team – someone who will go to extreme measures to go after customers and to make sure they are satisfied.

    Reading from Love Works by Joel Manby, I want team members who treat customers like they are serving their own grandmother.

  • Wade_Thorson

    A team member that goes to that length for one group of customers understands the core values of that company and is someone I want on my team. As a leader you could not be more excited to see one of your team member show that much concern for a customer.

  • MrTravisScott

    I love that story! I think the business is set up well…customer service must be at the core of that business! Also…they must give their employees some independence b/c she didn’t think twice about running them down! They must have read “Entreleadership”

  • Steve Pate

    I don’t know about you Chris and the rest of the awesome blog posters, but it’s been a great awakening to go to a restaurant and watch how the employees treat their guest. You can quickly separate those who enjoy serving you compared to the ones that is there just for a j-o-b.

    Or even best yet watching a great server deal with a customer who is very high maintenance and still the server does a great job serving them.

    Thanks Chris for sharing what you see from the back corner of the room.

  • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

    I love team members who go out of their way to serve our clients. The more I read and learn, I’m seeing that our current clients are of massive value to serve with passion– not just the ones we hope to move into the business for the first time.

    What do I think about team members who serve prospects/clients in the way you describe? (Running after them, and making sure we serve them right…) LOVE THEM! I want more of them, and thankfully I have quite a few! Woohoo.

  • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

    The kind of places where I’ve worked in the (now distant) past would have chewed out the gal for “leaving her post” or appearing desperate or some other criticism. Hope she was commended for her efforts!

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      I’ve worked at places like that, too.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    I love “foodership” stories. (We may need to come up with a better term for food+leadership). It tells me that the girl really loves her job and is proud of being part of that team. I’m sure she didn’t get a raise for chasing down a customer and it seems like they have plenty of customers to worry about one walking away. It also tells me that she can’t accept that because she performs with excellence.

    One time I was checking out at Costco, the cashier commented to her coworker that the customer who had just walked away spoke Spanish and she didn’t know how to explain to him about the extended warranty for a big television he had just purchased. Right then, the other girl at the register ran to the parking lot to find the customer and I ran after her to see if I could help interpret for him. He was a super nice guy, we had a brief chat and he explain that the didn’t need the warranty because he would be moving back to Mexico soon. I still appreciated the concern of the cashier and her coworker to make sure this customer was taken care of.

    • http://CorporateCultureRevolution.com/ Bob Winchester

      Foodership. Ha! How about Gastroleader or Restoship? ;)

      Great story!! Was listening to Fred this weekend, per your recommendation last week; it’s filled with these kind of stories!! Thank you for that!!

      Just proves that anyone can bring value to their work as long as they are serving the customer and not necessarily themselves.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        Gastroleader sounds like a remedy for indigestion… just sayin’

        That’s what I love too about The Fred Factor (and Fred 2.0 is coming soon!!). Ordinary people doing little things that make a big impact. I’d say this gal is definitely a Fred!

    • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

      Foodership – that’s a great one! And I like your story of trying to serve the customer even through a language barrier – few would do that, and I bet it was a big deal for the customer.

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    In healthcare, I really dislike the term “customer” over “patient”, but healthcare IS a business like any other. And unless you are driven to my hospital by ambulance, you DO have a choice on where you receive care. Taking more than 30 seconds beyond confirming a patient’s date of birth goes a long way. They are having an MRI with us today, but if they aren’t made to feel reassured and comfortable they will surely seek care elsewhere the next time they need medical care.

    This is a sore spot for me, because many return patients always ask for me, because I never make people feel rushed, yet many of my peers say I talk to my patients “too long”.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      As a patient, I love it when they take the time to listen to me and ease my worries, instead of rushing me through. You do a great job of serving your patients Scott!

    • http://CorporateCultureRevolution.com/ Bob Winchester

      I’ve been around healthcare quite a bit (used to be a sales rep in that biz). I’ve seen this many times. Docs & nurses that have such a giving heart are made to feel inadequate because they are “too slow”.

      It’s very sad because even though healthcare is a biz and needs to be efficient, the patients in this case are people and need to be treated as such!!

      God Bless you for your efforts skottydog!!

    • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

      I’m glad you talk to your patients ‘too long.’ I bet for some, not you cus you’ve done this forever, but for some – this might be a scary experience. Or maybe they’re nervous about the procedure or other medical things waiting for them AFTER they visit with you. Or maybe they’re upset about something going on before they come in contact with you… I say you make a huge difference by ‘talking too long.’

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      That’s awesome. My wife has the same passion for her patients and their families. She tries to take the time to connect and make them feel at ease as much as possible. Like was mentioned on the previous extended interview of EL, trying to make a bad day OK.

    • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

      That is so cool that you reassure and calm your patients down – that’s so important. There’s not “too long” as long as they need reassuring. Love that passion for your work!

  • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

    Sounds like a team member that follows the Scriptural example of the shepherd that left the 99 to go after the 1 that went astray. You may see leadership that has that kind of passion, but the influence of the leadership is shown when the other team members grab a hold of that passion and run with it (in this case, literally)!

    • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

      The context of that one parable and the ones that follow it is amazing too: a shepherd leaving the 99 to go after the 1, a woman rejoicing over finding one lost coin, and the whole story of the Prodigal’s son.

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

    First, this tells me leadership there hires the right people; people who will go to that length. This person owns their job rather than simply working for someone to get paid. Total difference in perspective. It also sounds like leadership is intentional about serving their customers and making service as high of a priority as quality food. Businesses have to be deliberate about long-term sustainment and that’s rooted in what you’re doing today.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Great point about leadership hiring the right people.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        Ditto!

      • Steve Pate

        yes amen to that

  • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

    I think success can breed a certain arrogance, whether it’s a restaurant, business or individual. It’s refreshing to see such a concern for each customer as this – I have to say that was not what I was expecting you to share. This restaurant will continue to be successful because of the servant leadership the team member as well as the leadership showed.

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      It’s sad that this kind of servant-leadership is so rare that it seems exceptional. It should be expected!

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        Nah… we’ll be out of blog posts…

        • Steve Pate

          lol

        • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

          No, we’d still have plenty of posts – they would just be about the food! :)

      • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

        Yes it should. I totally agree with you!

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

      I wasn’t expecting that outcome in the story, either! However, I wonder…will there be a Part II describing the meal? You can’t leave us hanging, man!

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        I know. I’ll expect an update for the Restaurant Review tab

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      I like that Carol! Success can breed arrogance. It’s easy for people to forget where they came from and how they got to the top of the mountain.

      • Steve Pate

        totaly agree

    • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

      Totally agree: success can be your downfall if you start moving faster than your own people, processes and systems.

  • TroyD

    Sounds to me like they are smart enough to create a tribe. If you go out of your way to get people to taste and see your great food, they will be advocates in that long line next time around. They won’t Leave and they will encourage other new clients to stay in line as well (as long as they are behind themselves).

    • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

      Amen!