Taking Your Customers To Lunch
Imagine walking into your favorite Italian
restaurant. You likely
have been looking forward to it all day and when you simply walk in
the front door and smell the delicious aromas your heart begins to
pound just a little bit faster. You
sit down at the table with your family and friends and subconsciously
your senses begin to register all of the different things that are
occurring. Your ears hear
the pleasant chatter of friendly conversation all around you, the soft
music gently drifts by, the artwork on the walls is pleasing to your
eyes and oh yeah, there is the smell of all of that delicious Italian
The reason you love this place is that it involves
all of your senses -- you can see it, touch it, smell it, taste it and
hear it. You are much more
likely to feel strongly about an experience when it involves all of
your senses than when it does not.
Involving the senses will create “anchors” in your
customer’s minds regarding your business.
When you take them out to lunch at a fabulous restaurant, while
they may appreciate your gesture, they are “anchoring” the happy
experience with the restaurant and not necessarily with you or with
With this in mind, we decided we would stop taking
our customers to lunch and begin inviting them to our office for those
lunch meetings. We make it
a point to have something that has a strong, delicious smell.
As soon as the receptionist lets us know the customer has
arrived we move into action. The
table has already been set, the glasses filled with water or tea and
the salads and desserts are already on the table.
All we have to do is place the main entrees on the table and we
are set to go. Once all
the food is on the conference table, we move quickly to greet our
customers and walk them back to the meal.
There is almost always an immediate physical response, as soon
as they smell the food, they will turn to us with a huge smile on
their face – glowing with appreciation for our efforts and say,
“Wow, this looks delicious!” You
can almost see in their eyes that they are a little surprised by the
efforts we have taken for them. This
little extra effort makes them feel extremely appreciated and
important, but more importantly you are “anchoring” this strong
sensory experience of a pleasant event to you and to your company.
Now when they think of doing business with you, their
sub-conscious mind will go into action and remember those feelings of
just how much you cared about them.
When you stop taking your customers to lunch, and
you begin to feed them – you will be miles ahead of your
competition. There are
seven ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.
everything you do experiential:
Involve as many of your customers physical senses as you can.
Make sure you have greenery and flowers outside your building.
Make sure your lighting is appropriate for what you are
selling. Take a walk
through your business and experience what you offer.
What can your customer see, smell, hear, touch and taste?
The more you can involve your customer’s senses, the more you
will stand out in a crowded field.
As a provider of services, I am constantly seeking to provide a
reliable standard of service to the customers I work with.
Consistency should be your goal.
Regardless of whom the customer is or what service they are
buying from you, you want every experience they have with you to be
consistent. From the way
they are greeted when they walk in the front door, to the way the
transaction is handled to the follow-up service they receive.
Your goal should be to deliver reliable and consistent service.
To stand apart from the competition you must be willing to
invest in training your employees.
I recently read that the average employee receives a total of
seven hours of formal training for their jobs.
We live in a microwave age and the last thing a customer wants
to deal with is an untrained employee.
Be willing to create written systems and processes for each
contact that a customer has with your business.
Once these are standardized make sure all of your employees
have increased their personal level of competence so they can breeze
through the daily grind of dealing with a variety of customer service
When working with a customer, we must fully focus all of our
attention on that person. Make
sure you are fully aware of their needs, listening to their questions
and concerns and then delivering what they are asking for, not what
you would like to sell them. Work
to deliver more than they are expecting, you can only do this by fully
understanding their needs.
While the words you say speak to your customers, your body
language screams the real message.
By remembering that you often have as little as two seconds to
make a first impression, make sure every customer is greeted quickly
and politely. Follow your
greeting with positive eye contact and a warm smile.
And, concentrate on communicating with relaxed and interested
The best way to differentiate your company from the competition
is to constantly exceed their expectations.
If we meet a client’s expectations, we gain no competitive
advantage. Ask your
customers about their hobbies and interests and mail them notices
about attractions or information related to that information.
Send anniversary cards on the date they first became your
customer. Send pictures of
your children in your next Christmas card.
Write two hand-written thank you notes per day.
It is often the most personal touches that will be remembered
a Strategy and a Story: Chose one strategy to be known for and then tell that story
over and over. As a
motivational speaker and strategic consultant, our story is
“Change happens in an instant, it happens the moment you decide to
change.” Our story
is in all of our materials, on our website and known by all of our
customers. Decide what
strategy you will stand for, and what story you will tell and then
begin to shout it from the roof tops.
Soon your customers will also recognize how different you are
and they will be telling your story for you as well.
When you have a recognizable and memorable story, you will
shine like a beacon of light in a world looking for change.
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