Last week my car was in the shop having its master brake cylinder replaced. Because the problem was detected the evening before I flew to a conference, I had to take a taxi to and from the airport. My experiences reinforced my belief in the importance of relationships even when they’re measured in minutes.
My first cabbie called me to tell me he was stuck in traffic and would be a few minutes late. Point one in his favor. Once we were on the road, he offered me the morning paper. We talked about the Dallas Cowboys, and when I told him I hadn’t watched the game because I was at my son’s soccer game, I found out he had a love of soccer. When I left his cab at the airport he handed me a business card and encouraged me to contact him the next time I needed a cab. All in all an enjoyable experience.
On the return trip, the cabbie’s conversation was limited to acknowledging my directions. No attempt at conversation. When I left his cab and told him about a shortcut back to town, he didn’t even thank me.
I gave the first cabbie a bigger tip than the second one because he took the time to build a relationship with me, even when that relationship only lasted a matter of minutes.
Recently, my family and I went to Schlitterbahn, a water park in New Braunfels, TX. Leaving the waterpark with four hungry kids and two hungry adults we stopped at a Wendy’s near the Interstate. The cashier who took our order smiled, and because we were the only customers, took time to chat with me as I waited on my order. In only three or four minutes, her personality separated her restaurant from the other dozen with a one-mile radius. Next time I’m in New Braunfels I’ll remember that.
Even when interactions with customers are measured in minutes, employees can still build positive relationships with customers that keep them coming back. It all starts with a smile and a willingness to learn more about the customer.