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The hospitality that gets customers talking about you

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The service that creates relationships between a customer and the associates of the business itself, is the practice of being hospitable. This encompasses a customer's reception upon entering the doors of the business and the experience they have during their visit. This act of hospitality with the customer will determine how they feel about the level of service, the staff, and overall business. It will also provide a basis for what they will share with others.

According to '5 Secrets of Good Customer Service', when you can show concern about what's important to your customer, you’ve just gained a customer for life. An example, from the article would be, “Good evening, Mr. Smith. Welcome to our hotel.” Then, after a bit of general conversation, “By the way, Mr. Smith, did you manage to unload at a profit those hundred shares of Doodlebug Appliances you thought were a bit risky?” or, “Was your daughter accepted at Harvard? Last time you were a guest with us you expressed concern that Emily was having difficulty with her math, and wasn’t sure if she had enough points to qualify for admission.”

This may be the 'secret sauce' of hospitality, says xpient.com . "If we can make each of our customers feel like a VIP. No organization is perfect, and there are many things that are out of our control. But, we do have control of our attitude."

Here are 10 tips on creating a 'hospitable' service environment, from sbinfocanada.com, that creates raving fans and gets them talking about their experience with you:

  1. Remember there is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it.-It will show. Companies don't help customers... people do.
  2. Realize that your people will treat your customer the way they are treated.-Employees take their cue from management.Do you greet your employees enthusiastically each day. Are you polite in your dealings with them?
  3. Do you know who your customers are?-If a regular customer came in to your facility, would you recognize them? Could you call them by name? All of us like to feel important. Calling someone by name is a simple way to do it and lets them know you value them as customers.
  4. Do your customers know who you are?-If they see you, would they recognize you? Could they call you by name? A visible management is an asset.
  5. For good customer service, go the extra mile.-There are all sorts of ways for you to keep in touch with your customers and bring them closer to you.
  6. Are your customers greeted when they walk in the door or at least within 30-40 seconds upon entering?-Is it possible they could come in, look around, and go out without ever having their presence acknowledged? Could it be that Sam Walton knew this simple but important gesture is a matter of respect, of saying "we appreciate your coming in," having nothing to do with the price of merchandise?
  7. Give customers the benefit of the doubt.-Proving to him why he’s wrong and you’re right isn’t worth losing a customer over.
  8. If a customer makes a request for something special, do everything you can to say yes.-The fact that a customer cared enough to ask is all you need to know in trying to accommodate her. Remember you are just making one exception for one customer, not making new policy.
  9. Are your customer service associates properly trained in how to handle a customer complaint or an irate person?-Give them guidelines for what to say and do in every conceivable case. People on the frontline of a situation play the most critical role in your customer’s experience.
  10. Want to know what your customers think of your company?-Ask them. Compose a "How're We Doing?" card and leave it at the exit or register stand, or include it in their next statement. Keep it short and simple. Ask things like: what it is they like; what they don’t like; what they would change; what you could do better; about their latest experience there, etc.

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