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Do You Have Happy Customers?


Im a big fan of buying local. More often than not I will bypass convenience for the ability to talk to a living breathing human being, have an interaction, then make a purchase. I dont think Im alone.

Last night Carolyn and I went to the local Macys. We meandered through the beauty area, the clearance area, the mens and women's clothing departments. Sadly, not once were we greeted by a store employee. We made a few selections and headed to the dressing room. There was no staff presence at the dressing room, and the rooms were filled with clothing from previous prospective customers.

We made our selections and went to the checkout line. This was the first time we encountered an employee. There was one person ahead of us with a pile of clothing on the counter. The cashier looked up, smiled and said, This is going to take a while, thanks for your patience.

We chose the clothing because it was on easily accessible clearance racks. We didnt choose anything in the beauty/fragrance section because we were not offered assistance despite standing there for 11 minutes.

I came home and within five minutes had the perfume/cologne we wanted thanks to I thought to myself, why would I bother going to Macys again?

Do local retailers realize why people shop their store? My wife and I chose local to support the local economy, to have human contact, and enjoy our shopping experience. None of that happened at Macys.

If you sell to businesses and want to be a source of business advantage, you must provide advice and help as to how they can exceed their customers expectations. I find the best way to share this information is by sharing stories of my own experience. My experience has taught me that great customer service is not that difficult to achieve. Use the acronym HAPPY:

1. H - Be Helpful. Greet them when they arrive, return calls quickly, and make sure your customers know they are the reason you are in business. Dont make them feel like an interruption or inconvenience in your day.

2. A - Be Attentive. Develop a relationship. Start by learning and using the customer name. Look for ways to make unique connections.

3. P - Be Personal, not pushy. People are looking for guidance, they are not looking to be sold. They enjoy the process of buying, and no matter what the product, they always have questions or concerns that will need to be addressed.

4. P - Be Proactive. Say thank you, smile, show customers that you truly appreciate they are doing business with you. Make them feel good about their decision. If there are concerns or complaints address them immediately.

5. Y - Be Yourself. People like doing business with people -- real people. Show your personality, be real. Smile and have fun engaging with your customers. Your positive attitude makes a huge difference.

I started with a story of how not to do it. Let me conclude with a story of what great customer service looks.

I wanted to make Carolyns birthday extra special. I found a great rate ($189) at the Trump Tower Hotel in Chicago. I booked the room online. Within one hour of booking the room, reservations called to thank me for my booking and asked if I was celebrating a special occasion. I told them it was my wifes birthday. They suggested that I might want to have some champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries in the room upon arrival to make it special for her. I agreed.

The next day I received a call from the concierge: Mr. Schmidt, we are so thrilled that you are going to be spending the night with us and celebrating Mrs. Schmidts birthday. I checked with our spa and they have an early afternoon couples massage and spa manicure and pedicure for your wife available if you would like me to book it for you; Im sure she would really love our spa. I agreed.

Three days before our arrival I received a call from the bell captain: Mr. Schmidt,  we are excited to see you and Mrs. Schmidt this Friday. In order to be ready for you can you please tell me the make and model of your vehicle, your license plate, and your estimated time of arrival? We have valet service and I want to make certain there is no delay in getting you to your spa appointment. I provided the information.

At the designated time, we arrived at the Trump Towers. A young man greeted us at our car: Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt, its so nice to have you at the Trump Towers. Mrs. Schmidt, happy birthday, we are so happy to be celebrating with you.

The doorman said, Good afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt, happy birthday Mrs. Schmidt.

We arrive at check in: Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt, youre all set, here are your keys. Mrs. Schmidt, happy birthday, we hope you have a wonderful stay at the Trump.  The clerk then leans over to me and whispers, Mr. Schmidt, I took the liberty of having a nice cake delivered to the room for Mrs. Schmidt. When you get to the room the candle will be lit and ready for her to begin the celebration.

Needless to say my great $189 rate turned into about a $650 weekend birthday celebration, but they made my wife and I feel like royalty. It was worth every penny. It made such an impact on me, Im still talking about it and writing about it three years later.

Providing wow customer service is even more critical today, given all the competitive buying choices. Is your company providing great service to your customers? As a source of business advantage, are you providing helpful information to your clients on how they can super-serve and make their customers HAPPY?

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc. You can reach him at

Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt