By Mike Green – President Customer Impact

During my days working in restaurant and retail sales, I was never a big fan of “canned or scripted” greetings and thank you’s.  Successful operators know that service must be personalized and memorable.  That is tough to do however when everyone is required to use the same tired verbiage.

The holiday season and major events like the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day provide employees with a great opportunity to break out of the same old, “Welcome, how may I help you today?” routine so take advantage of it.

The holidays provide a great time to start customer interactions with “Happy Holidays – glad to see you today”; “Merry Christmas – how is your shopping going?” and “Happy New Year to you and your family – come on in.”

This past holiday season, it wasn’t until Christmas Eve that I had a salesperson wish me a happy holiday season – and I noticed.  I remember the employee’s face, the store and the time of day.  Why was it so hard for everyone else to do this?  I anticipated this greeting on almost every transaction for weeks but not a single person took advantage of an easy opportunity to put a smile on my face by wishing me Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas.

While traveling on New Year’s Day, I had more than a dozen interactions with people from hotels to taxis, to restaurants and airline staff.  Unfortunately only one person took the initiative to wish me a Happy New Year and it left a lasting impression. I remember that person and business well.  I do not remember the others.  Why? Simply because that person took a moment to say three magical words – “Happy New Year!”

Of course personalized service goes beyond just greetings and thank you’s.  Staff should also use special events to generate light and relevant conversations with customers. For example when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, people love talking sports.  Why not try, “Are you watching the Super Bowl tomorrow?”; “Which team are you pulling for in the Super Bowl?”  or “Reminder – we are showing the Super Bowl here at the restaurant on Sunday and we have lots of food specials.”   In early February, easy conversation starters are:  “Are you shopping for your Valentine?”; “Have you done your Valentine’s Day shopping yet?” or “Reminder, we are having a great Valentine’s Day special dinner but, would you like to hear about it?”

Do not let your staff miss the easy opportunities that are presented every month to be unique and impress customers.  At your daily, weekly or monthly staff meetings, break out the calendar, check out the dates, gently remind everyone of the upcoming events that month and encourage them to use that information as just one more way to personalize the service they provide to each and every unique customer. The results will be evident, happy customers, larger tips and repeat business. Best of all, it does not cost your business a dime!


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