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The Power of Delighting a Customer

Aug 18, 2007
It used to be a privilege when I could spend nights in great restaurants, all the while knowing someone else was picking up the check! As the President and owner of Chicago's most prominent wine stores, I was usually the chosen one when producers and winemakers came to town.

Several things have changed since those days. Most notably, I have less hair than before and we recently sold our wine stores. Those fancy meals are a fading memory; however, one meal, in particular, is still very clear. On that evening a famous Barolo wine producer was in town, so several of us ventured out for a semi-casual steak dinner And I witnessed something spectacular that improved my philosophy about caring about customers.

At the next table were eight businessmen in town for their national convention, and they were having a grand time. They happened to order the Barolo wine produced by my dinner companion. His smile was wider than the Panama Canal! He approached the table to introduce himself, but it wasn't until later that we learned that he paid for the bottle, and the one after that. He never mentioned it to anyone, probably not wanting to draw attention to his act of generosity.

Wow! What an incredible gesture. I was stunned as were all the people at both tables. Introducing himself was probably enough, but going the extra mile was priceless. Part of "Hitting the Grand Slam" and creating happy customers is delighting your customers. Organizations and individuals who find a way to differentiate themselves by delighting their customers will be rewarded with positive customer attitudes, and resulting profits.

Here are a few simple ways to affect change in your favor.

* Go the extra mile. At our stores in Chicago, we asked, and expected, our front line people to retrieve the shopping carts from customers just so we could say "Thank you!" or "Have a nice day!" We understood the importance of the customer's impression. In fact, most studies show that what happens last will be what your customers remember first.

* Don't promise the world. Under promising and over delivering is much better than the opposite. Keep it real, so that when you do more than expected, the results are magnified.

* Do the unexpected. It is rare these days for an associate to walk a customer to the item they are looking for, and more common for them to point.

Do your associates take ownership of customers and their problems? One way to delight your customers is to leave your department to help them find something. It can be frustrating and difficult to navigate around a large store. Your associates should find it so customers don't become a hot potato tossed back and forth from one disinterested associate to another.

I remember the next morning after the producer bought the wine for the table that the whole industry was buzzing about this gentleman's insightful action. With such a simple, inexpensive gesture, he created buzz and good will that money could not buy. You can bet he had at least eight fans for life!
About the Author
Mr. Rosen served as President of Sam's Wines & Spirits, a family-owned business established in 1940. Mr. Rosen has founded Grand Slam Results, LLC, a speaking and training workshop firm. For more information, visit http://www.grslamresults.com
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