3 Skills for Awesome Customer Service
When I told Brian to bring a few friends,
I had no idea that he would bring in nearly seventy customers...
in a single night!
Brian was one of my “Regulars” at a bowling-anchored entertainment center that I managed. He came to bowl with a friend on a Monday night during “Cosmic Bowling.” When they returned the next Monday it was a group of four instead of a pair. In the ensuing weeks, the group grew to eight, fifteen, then more than twenty.
Not long after, Brian had my cell phone number and would call every Monday between eight and nine o’clock to let me know how many people to expect. Eventually, the number was consistently over thirty and using eight or more bowling lanes every week. For those not associated with the world of bowling, this number of people is equivalent to some bowling leagues. This was better than a league however, because Brian’s crew came every week of the year. Additionally, in this particular facility, our research showed that the average customer visited about five times annually. So it was a BIG deal when I had to break our No Lane Reservation policy to accommodate Brian and his league of (not so) extraordinary bowlers.
Approximately eleven months after I met Brian, he and I discussed the possibility of doing some sort of anniversary celebration. We agreed that he would bring in as many people as possible, and I would give them a special rate to bowl the whole night. Where thirty had become commonplace attendance, I expected forty or fifty might come. Imagine my surprise when we handed out shoes to almost seventy bowlers. Talking with Brian about his invitation to so many people, I learned his loyalty was a product of our customer service. Unbeknownst to Brian, we started implementing a new customer service strategy just a couple of weeks before he came in the first time. This new strategy consisted of three simple steps; Discover, Deliver, and Do More.
Discover. As you meet and interact with a guest or customer for the first time, take time to engage them and discover what their needs are. Find out about them, enquire as to why they came to your business and how they use your product. I like to find out exactly what brought them in for the first time, or what brought them back. What makes me different from competitors? As you meet with new clients enlighten them about things they may not know about your product or other policies or procedures that may affect you doing business together. This sounds simple, but you have probably had countless experiences like I have, where businesses fail to do this. I once called to order a pizza and was put on hold. As an experiment, I stayed on the phone and actually drove to the store. I was on hold for almost fifteen minutes and finished ordering my pizza in person before they took my phone call off hold to take my order.
Deliver. When training my team about delivering customer service, I broke it down into three quick and easy skills. Deliver exactly as your customer requests. Deliver elegantly by being a genuinely nice person that practices good manners. Be polite and use kind words like please, thank you and you’re welcome. Learn names, anticipate customer needs, and use your manners. Deliver energetically by being happy, friendly, enthusiastic, and all around enjoying your work. Customers should be able to feel the happiness permeating from you.
Do More. Doing more than what your guest asked for is where you really win customers. Once you have found out their needs, and deliver with a little bit more, guests will notice, feel special, and choose to return to your business. Do more for your guest than what they expressed as their needs. Go the extra mile and exceed expectations. Discovering needs and delivering them to your guest accordingly is good service. Doing more than what they asked for or expected is when you step into the realm of great service. Make it a memorable experience, do something special for them, personalize the interaction, and they will repay you by telling their friends and family about your business.
Putting it all together. My team and I discovered that most of the bowlers who came with Brian were part of an organized group for single adults. They were looking for an entertainment venue where they could get together frequently to mingle and build relationships. We delivered an enjoyable atmosphere and met any needs as they were requested. Part of the journey to a group of seventy included doing more with a lot of small extra things.
- If Brian brought in six or eight people beyond himself, we let him bowl for free. One of his friends saw this and asked to bowl for free. I told him he had to bring in ten people like Brian does and he could bowl free also. The next week, there they were with twenty people. They were regular customers AND my marketing team!
- We learned names, shoe sizes, and drink preferences. Few people ordered food because it was already late in the evening, but we randomly gave complimentary beverages.
- Several bowlers from this group had songs that they liked to request, so we put together a playlist of their favorite songs to play when they came in.
- We put extra effort into getting acquainted with people who were there for the first time. The last thing we want is for them to come once, and never come again.
- On Halloween, we offered a special rate for anyone who bowled in a costume.
- If it was someone’s birthday, we let them bowl for free. On Brian’s birthday, our team bought him a toy bowling set, with our own money. Think about what that says to your customer.
I don’t know how many people Brian actually invited to get seventy people to show up, but a customer experience focus was certainly the most cost-effective marketing campaign we ever offered!