For the past 6 years (maybe more) a group of us have gotten together every Saturday morning for breakfast. In this time we have eaten at just about every breakfast place in our area. We often tried different restaurants for variety but also for service. Eventually we settled on one place (Perkins) and we have made that our permanent Saturday breakfast headquarters for the last several years.
Until last week.
Last week several of us thought it would be fun to try a new place for our weekly breakfast club. Actually, it was literally a new restaurant, having just opened. Some of us had eaten there for dinner. The food was good and the place was clean so we thought we’d try it for breakfast.
That day we learned a valuable lesson in customer loyalty.
Even though our new restaurant had posted hours for Saturday morning (all day actually) they were closed. No explanation. Just a hand-made sign that said “Closed for today”.
So, with a shrug, we turned and headed back to our old reliable breakfast spot. When we got there here’s what happened:
- We were greeted by Jacob the manager.
- He had our regular table ready and waiting for us.
- Within 60 seconds Ashley stopped by to welcome us and confirm Dave’s beverage (he changes it almost every week).
- And she returned almost immediately with a tray full of our waters, coffees and juices. (She had the drinks ready and waiting about the time we arrived.)
After a couple more of the guys arrived Ashley could see we were all there so she started confirming our orders. She knows what we all order. But she’s professional enough to ask and confirm because she also knows some of us change it up once in awhile.
We proceeded to have our typical wonderful Saturday breakfast. Just like we always do.
Could the difference in the two restaurants be any more striking?
One restaurant was closed during their posted business hours with no explanation. This left us wondering how often such a closure might happen.
The other welcomed us like old friends.
At our Perkins, they have taken the time to get to know us (our regular servers know all our names and what we order). They have paid attention. They have demonstrated how much they want us to be their customers.
Even better, they do it with a smile and grace that says this is simply how they do things. It’s not an extra effort. It’s genuine. They’re not working from a checklist or a script. They are simply doing what people do when they care about their customers.
We have been loyal customers of this Perkins for several years. But my customer loyalty index went through the roof that day. Not because they did anything special or different than they usually do. It was because I was able to see more clearly how they go the extra mile every time we’re there.
One lesson here is that you need to be consistent. If you say you’ll do something then do it. Like being open during your posted hours.
Another is, if you care about your customers and treat them well, they’ll probably come back.
Simple concepts. Barely worth mentioning. Right?
Except we all know of many businesses that ignore them completely. So while basic ideas like these might be simple they’re still important. Monumentally important.
Customers know the difference between organizations that meet these standards and those that don’t. And I believe it makes a big difference in how often they come back.
(Photo Credit: David Woo)