What’s the difference between a non-fat vanilla latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon at most coffee shops, and the same drink at the Pacific Coast Café? It’s the secret ingredient – Donna. She’s in her mid to late 30’s, with dark brown hair neatly tucked under her cap, and glasses that slightly magnify her smiling eyes. She’s happy at 6am on a Tuesday morning… and she’s an endangered species.
Never heard of Pacific Coast Café? It used to be a Starbuck’s kiosk setup inside the Save Mart grocery store. When the Starbuck’s chain cut back on locations, this grocery store lost their franchise and had to invent their own little brand to keep the coffee flowing. Coffee tastes pretty much the same to me wherever I buy it, but I keep going back to Pacific Coast Café because Donna H. (on her name tag) knows my name, greets me with a big smile and is genuinely interested in how I’m doing. She doesn’t suffer from the teenage apathy you get at most retail stores, and instead goes above and beyond to create customer loyalty. Wow… did I just say that friendliness is considered “above and beyond” these days?
Whether you work in retail or not, you have a customer. Maybe it’s an actual paying customer that generates commissions for your paycheck, or a department within your company, or a partner organization that you serve. You have someone who depends on you to solve problems and create value. If you don’t, they have a choice to go elsewhere to “get their coffee.” When is the last time you smiled and showed a genuine interest in your customers’ needs?
My friend Anna passes along this advice on customer service: “Give the customer what they want when they want it, and sell like you don’t need the money.” I’ll add this: even if you’re not really having a good time that day, it pays to smile and look like you are. If you’re never having a good time, well… it might pay to find a new career.
Do you have an “above and beyond” story to share in Comments below?