What Coffee And Wine Can Teach You About Business

Jul 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Business Start-up Strategies, Coaching/Mentoring Success Strategies, Customer Care/Service, Sales Training

Brief Description of Article: If you want to figure out how to provide superior customer service, look to your own experiences as a consumer—what makes you want to become someone’s repeat customer?

Author Bio:  Bob Regnerus, “The Leads King”, is an expert at generating online traffic and converting web visitors into prospects and clients.  To learn more about how your website and blog can be successful, effective tools for your business, please visit www.TheLeadsKing.com.

I want to relate a pair of experiences I had one morning and afternoon recently—first when I stopped for a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and then when I went to buy some wine at Trader Joe’s.  These experiences gave me a chance to think about customer service, which is probably the most important business concept there is.

I’m pretty particular about my coffee.  I don’t drink five-dollar lattes or frappuccinos with ten different ingredients, but I still have a specific order any time I stop for a cup: regular coffee with cream and seven Splendas.  It’s not that complicated, but four times out of five, I don’t like what I get.  Sometimes they leave something out, sometimes they put the wrong thing in, and sometimes they just don’t bother to stir it, so all the cream stays at the top and all the Splenda sinks to the bottom.  It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone takes the time to get it right, and that’s what happened when I went to Dunkin Donuts the other day.

The college girl who took my order that morning was friendly and pleasant, and she didn’t look like she’d been put through a wringer or had five minutes left to live, which is more than I can say for many of her counterparts.  She listened to my order, and got it right, and even stirred it.  When she gave me my coffee, she smiled and asked if she could get me anything else.  I hadn’t been planning to order anything, but because she was so pleasant to deal with, I also ordered an iced coffee for my wife and a doughnut (Donut?) for my daughter.  Yes, I spent more money than I expected to when I walked in, but I was happy about it when I walked out, because I’d done business with someone who genuinely seemed to care about giving me good service.

A few hours after that, I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few bottles of wine.  Trader Joe’s, if you’re not familiar with it, is a chain of fairly eccentric grocery stores.  The employees wear tropical shirts, and they tend to be friendlier and more laid-back than the people working at most grocery stores– it’s what I might call a California-style atmosphere.  The store carries lots of unique items, including organic foods and healthy snacks, and they have varieties of wine that you don’t typically find elsewhere.

I was looking for wine that day, so I picked out four bottles and got in line behind a college-aged girl.  The clerk running the register was in his mid-50’s, and he was pretty talkative, which is typical of the people at Trader Joe’s.  He tried to make small talk with the girl in front of me, but she made it clear that she had no interest in conversation.  She didn’t have to send the hint twice—the clerk stopped talking and checked her out as quickly as possible, which was obviously what she wanted.  When she was gone, I made some comment about the girl’s all-business personality, and the clerk and I had a nice chat. 

So far this clerk had done everything right, and then came the best part: when he saw the four bottles I had selected, he immediately understood my taste in wine (I prefer the sweeter varieties) and made two recommendations based on my preferences. If this had been a “you want fries with that” sort of thing, I wouldn’t have bought any more wine, but since his suggestion was specifically tailored to me, I took him up on it and got two bottles I had never tried before (both of which were excellent).

Obviously, the dollar amounts involved in these examples are very low: three bucks at Dunkin’ Donuts and maybe fifteen or sixteen at Trader Joe’s.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from them, though.  In both cases, the service providers were friendly and professional, and they both took the time to ask if I wanted to buy something else.  Asking is very important—generally speaking, when you ask your customers to buy something else, 20% to 30% of them will say yes.  That’s a sales potential you can’t ignore.  The clerk at Trader Joe’s took the additional step of demonstrating that he understood my interests, and he tailored his offer accordingly.  That turned what might have been an annoying sales pitch into a pleasant experience and an additional sale.

Look for examples like this in your own life.  When you receive good customer service, think about what made it good.  Then, think about your clients—they’re probably paying you a whole lot more than you’re paying for your coffee.  Don’t you owe them an even better experience for the money?


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