I was in Portland, Oregon (my tale of getting VD there, for reference) recently. I was with a bunch of foodies who desperately wanted to go to the Lincoln Restaurant. The place had received all sorts of culinary accolades (to which I’m oblivious) and so we made a reservation for some ungodly hour of the dinner night, like 8:30. People, I eat at 6 pm. 7 pm if there has been a wait for dinner from my perch at the bar. 8:30 means there are fourteen HUNGRY people arriving to get a table.
They explained that our table wasn’t yet ready and gave us an estimate of how long we would be waiting: just a few minutes.
A few minutes pass, Jon is bopping around unsteadily like an angry Pooh bear on the hunt for a honey pot to pillage, and the drinks we’ve ordered are only make us aware of how tipsy we are, suddenly, after three sips.
Suddenly, bread appears. Lots of it.
Then an appetizer appears, “on the house.”
And another, and another. The wait continues, but hey — so long as free food is rolling out, people are happy.
We sit down to yet another free round of appetizers and place our orders. The kitchen is a little backed up, so hey — more appetizers. I’m talking ten free appetizers, EASY.
Dinner arrives, it’s fantastic, we’re all exhausted but happily chowing down. It’s getting late and we ask for the check. Our waiter says that the staff has prepared a free round of desserts, don’t we want to stay? Um. YES.
Free desserts come out. I say each one is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Until I try the next one.
Though eating at the Lincoln took a few hours longer than we thought it would, we left feeling taken care of and lucky to have found the place.
Feeling taken care of is crucial to the life of your business.
If an order is going to be late or a product is out of stock, a heads-up and a goodwill gesture as soon as you know anything is wrong will most likely head any ill will off at the pass. It’s easier to hope no one calls you out on unmet expectations, but a quick acknowledgement of the situation can do wonders for most any customer.
Given bread and butter and fried zucchini and the assurance that we were the restaurant’s first priority, Jon stopped making his storm-the-honey-pot face. We settled into the waiting area, chatting and enjoying our drinks.
Had the Lincoln been over an hour late with our reservation and just given us the metaphorical finger, leaving us to starve, we would have been unhappy to hand over our cash at the end of the night. As it is, each member of their establishment did everything in their power to make our experience a pleasant one. We felt taken care of and valued for the duration of our time in the restaurant.
Think with me, now: what are three ways you can make your customers feel more taken care of a result of working with you?
I’m not talking feeling “okay” about working with you, and I’m not talking about typical stuff that everyone does. I’m talking the feeling you get when you walk into your Grandma’s house and a pie is baking. THAT feeling.
Quick suggestions to get your “taken care of” juices flowing:
- Send a thank you gift or e-mail for booking services. Yes, deliver a thank you before you even meet.
- Communicate any delays in a client’s timeline without being defensive, and offer a reward for their patience. Whether 5 minutes or 35 minutes late, people appreciate knowing you value their time. Also, free appetizers are delightful.
- Call past clients to ask for shop/service suggestions (or use this helpful post to garner feedback).
- Hold a VIP party to thank past clients for their loyalty to your business. Don’t sell them a damn thing at the party, just love ‘em.
- Share resources you love with your peeps and/or your e-mail list. (Hair, nails, make-up, books, organizational tips? Doesn’t matter — they just need to know you’re looking out for ‘em.)
Go on, tell me what you’re gonna do in the comments — feel free to improvise if you’re feelin’ feisty — and as always, if you dig this article, please share it on the Facebooks.