There is a café in Toronto called the True Love Café. From time to time, I will stop in for a coffee on my way into the office. I am by far not a regular, but the owner remembers my name every time I go in. That is what I call customer service.
However, knowing your customers and knowing them by name is very different. There is a special skill that many politicians have learned, and that is remembering names and faces. When you are able to address a customer or potential client by their name, they instantly perk up. Dale Carnegie wrote a book in 1936 “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that was inspired by Simon & Schuster senior staffer Leon Shimkin after attending one of Carnegie’s speeches.
One of Dale Carnegie’s most important messages was to “remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” To this day that message still rings true. Knowing and understanding targeted customers is important in business-to-business relationships.
Learning about a potential client or customer’s family and what they value most does not require a private investigator. It involves active listening. Active listening is not just about comprehension or soliciting a response. It is also about remembering the context and points of the conversation.
In our office space, the staff knows not only the names of every office space tenant and details about their business, they know details about who the person behind the business is. If you do not know who your clients are, it is difficult to know how best to serve their needs as a small business owner.
While you may not have the opportunity to interact with your customers or clients on a daily or weekly basis, reaching out to them on a non-sales, social or even personal basis can go a long way in keeping them as loyal customers. Sending them an email or placing a phone call just to say “Hi, how is it going?” will remind them that they are genuinely appreciated.