"The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer."
I can confirm that I am a BELIEVER in this. So what should businesses do to keep a customer? First and foremost, this is a no-brainer, THEY SHOULD HIRE WELL. This allows a business to deliver a great customer service experience and keep their customers returning because if they hire badly, they need to discount in order to make up for bad customer service. If I can get a good experience and save money at the same time, that's terrific. However if I am saving money but have a bad experience, you can bet I'm NOT coming back again.
For example, I was out shopping with a friend who wanted to buy a camera. We went into a store that had the model that he wanted, and it was a good price BUT the sales associate who waited on us, was TERRIBLE. It was almost as if he knew he had the sale in the bag and could barely give us the time of day. Instead of saying yes, my friend and I left to continue shopping. Needless to say, we found another store with the same item, but it was $20 more. However the CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE was outstanding! The new sales associate couldn't have been nicer. Not only did he give us a warm welcome, he took the time to point out every single feature the camera offered. My friend asked me my opinion. It wasn't my money, so he could do what he wanted however, I told him that I would rather pay the $20 more for the customer service. Consider it a $20 education because the sales associate showed my friend how to really make the most out of his camera plus the guy threw in a camera case.
In the end, he bought his camera at the store that charged him $20 more. Why? It was the customer service experience that closed the deal. This particular sales associate sold himself more than he sold the camera. And this is what business should be all about. We forget that the first point of entry into a sale is the sales person, not the store. The store name may attract you and can put all the pretty displays out but if the staff can't sell themselves out of a paper bag, the store might as well close up shop and go home for the day.
I was ecstatic when Nordstrom's opened in Nashville. Do they charge more for their merchandise? In some cases, probably, however it's the customer service that keeps me coming back. From buying clothes, I now have a personal shopper who knows what I like and then emails me when certain styles and colors come in. This saves me TIME, something that is absolutely priceless to me. Their staff is ENGAGING. And I can honestly say, it's been the same from Nordstrom Seattle, to Nordstrom San Francisco to Nordstrom Nashville so I can also mention CONSISTENCY.
As many of you know, I worked for Holland America. It was about 3 years later when I went back as a passenger on the new Westerdam. To say I had an incredible time is an understatement. All of the times I stood on stage as the Cruise Director and talked about how our guests "entered as strangers but left as friends", this particular voyage was proof to my testament.
One night I walked into a lounge, and as I approached the bar to order a drink, there appeared a bartender with a glass of wine in his hand that was for me. You are probably thinking that a) someone ordered the wine for me or b) I had been there the night before and he remembered me. Not the case. This was a bartender who worked with me on the Veendam THREE YEARS BEFORE. Not only did he see me walk into his lounge, but he remembered me immediately and he remembered what I loved to drink.
I love finding businesses who know how to attract and keep a customer. If you are in business, do you?