You don't own your customers, your people do. That's a pretty heavy statement, isn't it? You may not even believe it, but it's true.
Customers don't shop at your store just because they like what you sell; lots of stores sell the same products. And customers don't always choose a store because they happen like the owner, although that helps. Customers tend to return because like how they feel in a particular store, and more often than not, how they feel about a store involves the people who work there.
Rich buys his suits at a men's specialty store near our office, but the store is really just the place that houses the kind of apparel and accessories that he likes. Mike is the one who makes the difference. It’s Mike who calls Rich on a regular basis to tell him what's new and what's on sale. It’s Mike who puts merchandise aside he knows Rich will like, and it’s Mike who calls to remind Rich that it's been awhile since he's purchased dress shirts, and isn't it about time for some new ones? Where's Rich's loyalty? If you guessed it's with the store, you would be wrong.
Georganne drives a Licata; it's the fifth one she's owned. The fact that the car is actually a
After suffering through visits to two other dealerships, Georganne called the one where she had purchased her five Licatas, and asked for the sales manager. She pointed out that she was in the market for a new car, Tom was gone, and she was tired of working with salespeople who just saw her as a dollar sign. The sales manager was happy to tell her that Tom had returned to the dealership. Long story short, George went in the next day and bought a 2011 Licata.
Now, you may be thinking that's a good thing, right? Not necessarily. Aside from the standard thank you call and/or note, the dealership hasn't done much to build a relationship with George. Her relationship is with Tom, so if Tom changes dealerships, Georganne's business is likely to go with him.
Both of these examples leave the businesses in a vicarious position. Both companies need to value their people and focus on what the business can do to keep customers close. Make a list of things you can do right now to encourage your associates to success AND build customer loyalty to your store at the same time.
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