Earlier, I wrote about how important it is to know your customers as people, to recognize them when they do business with you. I think most people would agree, this is a great way to get customers coming back to your business.
But there is a good way and a bad way to do this.
Sometimes, I’ll deal with a new business and the employee I work with is too friendly. They act like they’ve known me for years. They’re just a little too personal.
In truth, this doesn’t happen much. Both my wife and I are pretty friendly and easy-going people. We’ll strike up a conversation with anyone. In fact, we prefer people who are outgoing and willing to engage with their customers.
So, it’s a rare person who can cross the line to where they are too friendly, but it does happen. And when it happens, it leaves me feeling like the other person is not being sincere. I always get the feeling they’re being “friendly on demand”, as if it’s just another requirement of their job or part of an act.
Maybe that’s the key. It’s important to know and recognize your customer but be yourself while doing it. Be authentic.
As customers, we understand not everyone is going to be outgoing or friendly or happy every moment of every day. It’s not realistic. But that’s okay because we’re not looking for a new best friend when we do business with someone. In fact, most people do not consciously think about how friendly or welcoming employees are when they choose to do business somewhere. But, when they get there, they do notice how they are treated.
And that affects when or if we come back to that business again.
Here’s one last thought before I leave you. A few weeks ago, while having lunch in our new favorite Asian restaurant, my good friend told me a fascinating story about “knowing your customers.”
He was talking to his dry cleaner one day about this topic. The dry cleaner said she would STOP doing business with anyone who indicated that they recognized her. In other words, once she had come back to a business often enough for them to greet her by name, she would never come back. Her reason was that she didn’t want to get that personal with people she does business with.
I was floored at this idea. Not that I’m criticizing her. But this is completely the opposite of how I think and how I thought other people think.
This provides a good lesson. Don’t assume everyone wants the same thing. Some customers just want to be left alone.
So, as you find ways to recognize and connect with your customers, remember, be authentic but also try to understand what they want. Discover how they want to be treated and then treat them that way.
It’s a great way to grow your business.