Getting personal and the Golden Rule in business

Why is it that we work so hard at the simplest things only to lose customers?  Usually it’s because we haven’t bothered to simply treat customers the way we would want to be treated.  IBM Director of Marketing Tami Cannizzaro gives a great example:

As a consumer, you know in an instant when you’re dealing with a company that doesn’t have it together.  We’ve all been there: “Pleeeassse, don’t ask for my serial number again and the spelling of my name and my account numbers. Know me. That’s all I ask.”

via Personal ad: Marketer seeking brand advocates – Digital Age of Marketing.

As small business owners and managers we have the opportunity to get to know many of our customers on that personal level.  Of course, remembering the customers serial number is a job for a well organized system – whether it’s a computerized Customer Relationship Management system or the box of notecards that a rare bookstore owner I know uses.  But the computers, the files and the paperwork are no substitute for the smiling faces with your name on their lips and your basic needs in their head…and heart.

Whether it’s a server at the restaurant asking if you want “the usual, Jim” or the manager of the UPS Store saying, “Hi, I’ve got a package for you, Tom” when you walk in the door, that’s the personal touch that makes us loyal customers.  Deep down, we’d all love to be Norm from Cheers with a bar full of people shouting our name, our favorite spot at the bar reserved and the beer in place before we make it to our seat.

We may not be able to make every entrance a Cheers! moment for our customers, but we should all make getting to know our customers our number one priority and make sure that our employees know it’s the number one priority for them as well.