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Be Proactive With Your Customers

Posted by Kate Seat on 7/10/14 11:00 PM
Topics: college store customer service

In this excerpt from a post on Business 2 Community, Ken Mueller shares some of his experiences as Director of Marketing & Communications for a local business. In the post, he gives examples of how being proactive about meeting your customers' needs—even the unspoken ones—can go a long way toward strengthening your relationship with them.

As I spend time walking through our facility, I’ve been making it a priority to find out what our customers think.

“How’s your food?”

“How are you doing? Can I get you anything?”

And more often than not, I find that people are happy. Very happy. But they also offer me insight into what we can do better, even if they don’t realize it. As I take the time to listen, I’m learning more about our brand. Not the brand as we define it, but the brand as they define it.

With our World Cup viewing parties, we’ve had several chances to see how well we can perform when we are at max capacity, which means there might be around 700 people in our facility, often on hot and humid days. Over all, we’ve done incredibly well. As we have reached capacity, we’ve had a line of people outside waiting to get in. We weren’t able to let them in because we didn’t want to risk going over fire code. Most of these people were fine, but a few were upset. When this happened yesterday, we did a few things to try to ease their pain and make the experience less of a stress issue for them.

First, since we had multiple screens around the building for people to watch the game, and since that was the reason these people were in line, we turned one of the screens around so it was facing out, and alerted those in line that they could watch the game that way while they were waiting to get in. That little gesture won us some brownie points.

Second, since it was a hot day, I went outside with a bunch of bottled water that we had purchased, and handed them out to those standing in the hot sun and humid conditions. Just that little act alone got plenty of thank yous, and thankfully we were able to get everyone inside for the last part of the game, as other folks left to go home. Unfortunately we couldn’t deliver a win for the U.S. and make the experience even better.

No one asked for these things, but it was something we thought to do to help them out. They never voiced a need, but it doesn’t mean the need wasn’t there.

Through it all, I’ve learned a lot about how our business is perceived by a wide variety of people; some of it good, some of it not so good. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get defensive. It means we’ll listen hard, and make the necessary changes. We know we’ll never please everyone. No one can. But we sure can try.

Simple acts like turning a TV around, handing out water, reaching out to those who are unhappy, and simply just asking people about their experience, can go a long way in building a strong, positive brand. Those little things take very little time, and a minimum amount of effort, but they can be huge in terms of marketing and customer experience.

And those little things might not even be all that obvious, but if you cultivate a climate of doing the little things, they will add up and your customers will notice, and even talk about it.

In our College Store Stories, we've shared how handing out candy during buyback, rental stickers or other inexpensive treats can make each experience that much more rewarding for everyone. What "little things" have you done for your customers to make them smile—and keep them coming back?

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