By Laurie Guest
We are headed into the final push of serving our customers during a holiday rush. I think it’s possible that this season could be one of the most challenging we faced in a long time.
Why? Because the customer emotions may be running hotter and the pocketbooks may be running thinner.
What does that mean? It means we must really be prepared—armored up—for the best possible engagement with our customers. We need to make the experience as pleasant as it can possibly be, every single time they walk in our door.
Let me share a brief story. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is often known as Small Business Saturday, and people are encouraged to shop locally in the town in which they live. I am a big fan of shopping locally.
I live in a small town of about 45,000 people in Northern Illinois (about 60 miles west of Chicago), and we are not a tourist town. That means that all our small business owners need to survive on local foot traffic. How do they do that? With great service and great products.
So on this Small Business Saturday, my husband and I headed out to safely do a little Christmas shopping. We went to four different businesses that offer similar products; home goods, antiques and collectibles.
The first store that we walked into was a cute little shop with two floors. At the bottom of the basement stairs the last step is a little awkward and they’ve got a lot of warning signs so that people don’t fall.
We were the only customers in the store and two women (the owners, I think) tending the shop. They had not greeted us when we walked in, they never asked if they could help us find anything, they never engaged with us at all. So here’s the part that really bothered me, the only sentence either of them said to us the entire time we were in the store: “watch the step!”
As I used the handrail to go downstairs, what I was thinking to myself was “How about I watch the step and you watch the front door?!” How is it possible that we could walk into the store and not receive a greeting? Not receive any type of service to make sure that our needs were being met?
There were three items in that store that I would have considered buying, but I ultimately did not because, as you know, I believe in great service to my core. I refuse to buy from someone who doesn’t go the extra mile to make the connection, who doesn’t engage in a way that makes me want to do business with them.
And so there is only one lesson for today’s message and that is: this season, you’ve got to mind the door every time that door opens. If you’re not, your customers will feel it and take their business elsewhere.
This season, more than ever, is the time to make every interaction count.
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