“A customer is the most important visitor on our premise. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” — Mahatma Gandhi
By Lisa Ryan
Hi, I’m Lisa, and I am a Costco-holic. (Hi, Lisa). Although I am not a fan of most big box stores, a trip to Costco is a fun-filled adventure. From the delicious food samples to the vast array of interesting products that, once discovered, we can no longer live without, I enjoy the entire experience. But that’s not what makes me appreciate Costco. It’s their people.
From what I understand, Costco treats its employees extremely well. They have lots of flexibility and earn higher wages than competing stores. And it shows. The employees have fun, and they ensure an enjoyable trip. When Scott and I first became Costco members, I was poking fun at the Kirtland Brand that reigns supreme in the store. With complete and utter sincerity, the Costco employee who I was talking to said, “There is NOTHING that Kirtland makes that is not top notch.” Wow, that’s commitment. I felt her passion, and I’ve discovered that she’s absolutely right.
Now, for the post office. I’ll go out on a limb to say that most people do not enjoy a trip to the post office. Face it, it’s not generally a place where the employees are delightful, empowered, and fun — except in North Royalton. I had a package to deliver, and I drove out of my way, right by a neighboring post office, to go to MY post office. It’s not that I’ve had horrible experiences at the other location; it’s just not a place where customers are made to feel special or important.
The package that I was sending was in an “if it fits, it ships” box. Because of the item I was shipping, there was a very slight bulge on one side of the box. A visiting postal worker was taking care of me and wasn’t sure if she was “allowed” to take the package. Her colleague, a postal worker who knows me by name, told her, “Of course we’ll take Ms. Ryan’s package — we love her!” In a long line of people, the clerks treated each customer with the same respect, patience, and kindness that I was shown — and not one person complained about the wait.
Another customer handed Gary a notice to pick up a letter. She had had the notice for quite some time and the post office had already sent the letter back. Gary actually apologized to her for the letter not being there. Her response? “Of course, that’s what I figured. It’s not your fault. Thank you.” Politeness, a sincere caring for the customer, and acknowledging their concerns goes a long way in creating raving fans.
And finally, my dentist. I found Dr. Craig Vinkovich by going online and reading testimonials. The funny thing is that Dr. Vinkovich was one of the few dentists who had positive recommendations. One trip to his office and I understood why.
I don’t like filling out forms. Although a necessary evil, I find them tedious and repetitive, so I opt to have a little fun with them. For example, in the blank where they ask about children, my general answer is, “Do cats count?” When the form asks if I’m pregnant, the answer is always, “Gosh, NO!” and so on. Frankly, I didn’t expect the form to be read at all, and certainly not in front of me. As luck would have it, Dr. Vinkovich read my form in its entirety while I sat in the chair — and he laughed. I knew I found the perfect dentist — one who was not only good at what he does but who has a terrific sense of humor to boot.
So, what do Costco, the North Royalton Post Office and Dr. Craig Vinkovich’s office have in common? Employees who make it an absolute pleasure to patronize these businesses. After all, when employees are treated well, they take better care of their clients. Those employees who feel valued and appreciated, who know that they are contributing to the mission of the organization, and enjoy their jobs go out of their way to provide customer service that reigns heads and tails above the competition.
I have been through other warehouse-styles stores and numerous post offices and have gone to several dentists in my life. I choose to give my hard-earned cash to the people who make me feel valued, appreciated, and special for selecting them. Don’t you?
Take a moment today to acknowledge the people who make your business great — both your customers and your employees. And make sure to let the managers of the companies you frequent know when you, as a customer, have been delighted due to one of their employees. Management loves to hear positive news and it makes a difference to the employee when you notice their efforts as well.
Employee engagement expert and motivational speaker Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. For more information, she can be reached at (216) 225-8027 and her Grategy website.
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