Column: You don’t know me

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Commentary by George Klein

During the last few months, I have become a regular morning customer at a Starbucks near my office. The morning shift has the same core baristas who give me a friendly greeting when I walk in. They also know my usual order and have it ready by the time I get to the register. It’s a delightful experience and makes me feel special. They know me!

Basic human psychology shows that when we experience something that makes us feel good, we make positive associations about it. There are several coffee shops around my office I can choose from. But I have a much stronger positive association to my Starbucks because they have taken the next step of knowing me and making me feel special.

How do businesses create positive associations with customers?

Frontline employees make the difference

The baristas are the ones making a difference at my Starbucks. I watch as they interact with customers. Some are regulars, some are not. They pay attention and are very tuned in to customers. They deliver consistently high levels of service that create an awesome customer experience. That positive association makes customers choose them over other competitors in the area.

Personalized service matters

The baristas personalize service for their customers, especially regular customers. They call us by name, know what we like, ask how we’re doing and offer other items we might be interested in. That personalization makes customers feel good and keeps them coming back.

Compare that feeling to walking into a business and no one greets you or even looks at you. That kind of experience creates a negative association about the business. At the very least, you may not go back, and even worse, you may tell your friends negative things about the business.

Customers want to feel good about a business and feel like the business cares about them. Creating those positive feelings leads to customer loyalty. Companies benefit in many ways from their loyal customers. Loyal customers are willing to buy more often and spend more, even if competitors are offering a better deal. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. Customer loyalty leads to overall company profits. Increasing customer retention by just 5 percent boosts profits by at least 25 percent.

George Klein is the CEO/Founder ofPeoplocity, a messaging and engagement platform. Contact him atGeorge@peoplocity.com.     

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