This has NOT been my week for good customer service.  It started with a trip to Walmart.  I walked into Walmart with an attitude because I don’t like shopping there; mainly because of their customer service, but secondarily because of their employee policies.  If we were not in a recession, if I were not saving for a major vacation, would I shop at Walmart?  NO! No way, No how, uh uh, absolutely positively NO!  But there I was, quickly walking with the hand basket filled with Good Customer Service - Keep your customers coming backthings too heavy for a hand basket.  I shop at odd hours, hoping to miss the crowds and it works.  But of course Walmart only has one or two check out counters open so there’s still a line. Yell


When it’s my turn, I give the cashier my cash and she proceeds to try and hand me $4.00 IN QUARTERS!!!  Money is money and it all spends, but I do not want to carry 16 quarters in my change purse.  I quickly tell her that I have some one dollar bills and change and she can give me back a $10.00.  The cashier lifts one eyebrow and with an attitude says “my drawer is already closed, I cannot go back in it”.  Really?!?  Now I’m getting an attitude.  I request that she call the manager.  She informs me that she already has, that the manager is not responding, and “can you move my groceries so that I can continue checking out the people behind you”.  Oh no she didn’t…  Remember, I have items to heavy for a hand basket, and definitely to heavy for me to stand holding indefinitely while this mythical manager may or may not show up.  With each second that I stand there I begin to seethe.  I can feel the anger literally burning in my heart and I am pissed.  I am pissed that I shop there – I am pissed that right now price is more important than convenience or my experience.  But at that moment I vow that after the vacation money is saved I WILL NOT SHOP AT WALMART EVER AGAIN…unless God Himself tells me otherwise.  When the manager finally does appear with change for the cash register I have already turned from red to blue to purple.  The cashier hands me the paper change then turns to the next customer without a word to me.  No “sorry for your inconvenience ma’m” or “sorry for the wait”.  Nothing.


Later that day, I call the car rental company that I’m using for our next extended weekend.  I need to add a day to the rental.  I noticed on my confirmation that I was given the weekly rate although I was only keeping the car for 5 days.  Great, I’ll call and get one day added for little to no money, right?  Wrong!  The person who answers the phone has an accent so thick that I can barely understand him.  (FYI Americans DO NOT like customer service call centers outsourced to other countries.  Americans barely understand our customer service needs much less folks from another culture.)  In fairness, I’m not sure if this company outsourced the call center or not, but they certainly have EXTREMELY LOW STANDARDS when choosing employees.  It took me 15 minutes to explain to him that I just wanted to add a day to my rental reservation.  I finally had to ask him, “am I being confusing?”  ”No ma’m” he insisted – yet we continued to go around in circles.  When he finally got the gist of my request he plugged some info into the computer and told me that my $136.00 reservation would go up to $449.63.

HUH!?!?  I explained to him what I explained in the earlier paragraph – I got the weekly rate, only keeping the car for 6 days, etc.  ”Well ma’m the screen says that the cost will be $449.63″  Silence.  I don’t know what to say.  I’m on the phone, in front of the computer looking at a daily rate of $50.00 – so the most I should have to pay is $186.00.  When I find my voice I tell him my search results.  ”The screen says ma’am…”  Okay, I have HAD ENOUGH!  ”Please get me someone that Get customers to come back to your restaurantcan do MORE THAN JUST READ THE SCREEN!!!”  Yes, I am  shouting at the man – which I almost never do – but he is getting the anger built up from Walmart – the anger pinned up in me from dealing with nonchalant, cavalier customer service personnel that have crossed my path over the last 5 years.


Keeping Your Customers Coming Back

1.  If you consider your business a low-cost leader make sure that your customer service is still top notch.  When the recession is over will you still get those customers who place customer service quality above pricing?

2.  Do not penny-pinch your way into bankruptcy.  The car rental story above (is true) and illustrates that you may have to pay a little more for quality employees but if trained properly they will return your investment 2-fold

3.  Your customers are doing you a favor by patronizing your establishment not the other way around!  Treat every one of your customers as if you are truly honored that they would spend their hard-earned money in your restaurant/store and they will come back for more.


Greg Verdino over at CMO to grow revamped and revised an article about making your customers feel uncomfortable.  He writes about business practices and procedures that meet a genuine need within the business but their ancillary effects can make their customers feel awkward or uncomfortable.  As I’ve written about before, branding is much more than your logo, it is the feelings and experience that customers have when they are involved with your products/services.  If you have the best pizza in the city, hands down; yet your customer service is wanting – chances are you will probably go out of business or at the very least your business will stagnate.  If you are one of only three pizza joints in town you might be okay; but can your brand withstand more competition?

  • Treat your customers like royalty
  • Remember their names
  • Create a birthday club and send them signed birthday cards
    • If you’re really on the ball you can include a picture of them from their last birthday
Protecting your brand and treating your customers with the graciousness they deserve will keep them coming back — recession or no recession.






I’ve been working with my son lately on his scholarship essays.  One of the topics that he has to explore deals with economic situations in various countries.  He has learned that most countries subsidize some domestic industry and that in some countries their incentive plan leads to corruption.  In retail we’ve been incentivizing our team by their commitment to increase loyalty scores; to increase the percentage of customers that say they would recommend the company/product and/or that they would come back for more.  We expect that as the loyalty scores increase, sales will increase accordingly.  However, a study outlined in the Harvard Business Review, reveals that loyalty ≠ more sales


“loyalty ≠ more sales”

In fact, according to the study, Walmart saw sales decline as satisfaction and loyalty scores rose.  What then is the small business owner to do?  If Walmart cannot get it right how can Papa’s Pizzeria get it right? Instead of incentivizing your team to increase loyalty, per se, incentivize your team to increase the share of wallet that your customers spend!


It is not enough to know what percentage of your customers would be willing to recommend you to their friends.  You also need to know where else are they spending their money.  Let’s use the fictitious Papa’s Pizzeria.  Mr. Papa can look at the situation in several ways.  What percentage of expendable income do his customers spend on pizza, what percentage do they spend on dining out, and/or what percentage do they spend on quick service food.  It is probably unreasonable to expect that his customers would spend 100% of their dining out money on pizza; and it may be unreasonable that they would spend 100% of quick service allocation on pizza.  He won’t know until he does some research.  The first step Mr. Papa should take is to try and get 100% of all pizza money allocation to be spent at Papa’s Pizzeria.  A simple questionnaire will get you the basic information:

Once you get a large enough sample, look at the answers for the people who would recommend Papa’s, yet also order from other restaurants.  What answers does that group give for #4.  Is there a way to mitigate that weakness?  Once you have taken away the reason to eat at another restaurant, then you should command a larger share of wallet by improving your “ranking” against all the local pizzerias.


In our fictitious scenario, let’s assume that most of the folks who would recommend Papa’s also eat at Little Italy’s and Mama’s.  Let’s also assume that the average customer orders pizza 2 times per month with an average bill of about $20.  So the average customer spends about $480 on pizza per year.  If that same customer is splitting that $480 between 3 restaurants, with Papa’s getting 40% of the business and the other two splitting 60% of the business then Papa’s is potentially loosing out on $288 per year from each such customer.

Let’s assume that Mr. Papa added some variety to his menu and started advertising his homemade pizza sauce with fresh spices and he kept his prices the same.  After a few months he did another survey.  On this new survey his customers ordered pizza from him 50% of the time.  That might not seem like a lot, but let’s do the math on this 10% increase.

BEFORE                        AFTER            
40% 50%
$192/YEAR $240/YEAR
$96,000/YEAR $120,000/YEAR

Just by satisfying 500 of Papa’s customers to eat his pizza over the competition 10% more, Papa brought in an extra $24,000 that next year.  Remember it’s easier and cheaper to get your current customers to spend more than it is to get new customers.


1.  Loyalty does not necessarily = increased sales

2.  See who your competition is and why your customers choose them over you any % of the time

3.  Improve your product/service in a way that your customers’ value

4.  Improve your ranking in your customers’ minds thus commanding a bigger share of their wallet


Build Your Social Media Marketing Strategy with Video

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