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Chris LoCurto

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March 31, 2011

I’m Sorry, Do I Know You?

March 31, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

In the restaurant business you always hear about how bad customers are. How they can be rude. How they don’t tip well. How they don’t even act like their waiter is standing right there. Some customers just give the rest of us a bad name.

My Favorite Parisian WaiterBut from time to time, waiters can do the same. In fact, one of the things that bugs me, is when waiters don’t spend time getting to know their regulars. There’s nothing like having the same waiter over and over again, and they never look at you, and they never remember who you are. “But Chris, they see so many people everyday!” Yes they do. And keep in mind, I’m talking about a place that you frequent. Not a place you go to a few times a year.

There is one place in particular where half of the staff knows who we are. But there’s this one guy (Ahhhh, the one guy thing.) who never remembers us. When he comes to the table, he never looks a single customer in the eyes and he always announces his name. I finally got to the point where I would call his name out before he got there, and he would still say what his name was.

Now I would normally think that there’s just something wrong with the one person. Except there’s one of those guys at another place that we go to regularly. Each time one of them serves us, I think, “What if my team was doing that to one of my customers!” I mean think about it, what if your sales person couldn’t tell you the name of any of the clients that he had worked with for a decent period of time. You would be concerned that you would lose that client, wouldn’t you?

The thing is, when six of your staff can remember me by name, job, even favorite type of music, you can back off of the one guy who can’t remember you if you danced on the tables singing you are my sunshine. But what if that’s the only person that I do business with? Then what? Studies show that you lose 68% of repeat business due to perceived indifference. In other words, they feel like your company doesn’t care about having, or even keeping them as a customer.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to make sure your staff is doing everything they can to notice customers. Especially if they are repeat customers. Here are some things you can do:

  • Talk to them. Explain the importance of repeat business and how it makes it easier for you to pay a staff when you have customers. Let them know how word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing your fantastic product, or the best way to tell everyone else that you just don’t care about them enough to know their name.
  • Train them. Give them a pop quiz on the repeat customers that you already know. If they’ve worked with them at least twice, do they remember them? What can they tell you about that client that they should have picked up the first time? What are they doing to keep the information they’ve learned about the client, so it’s easily accessible next time?
  • Make it a group effort. Keep the whole team on their toes by pulling them together and discussing the clients that always return. What do you know about them? What makes them a good client and what can we do to make them a great client. Tell the team be on the lookout for returning customers, and be sure to inform everyone else so they can be prepared. Have the other team members say hi and call the client by name so they feel that the whole company feels they are a star.

These are just a few simple things that will help your team, but more importantly, help your customer feel like you really REALLY love their business.

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  • Kim Little

    So often, people skills are not something easily learned or easily taught. Either you’ve got em, or you don’t.