Stick with me here, it makes sense - I promise.
Just this week, we (re)visited Quaker Steak & Lube which is new to our area. The local reviews have not been that favorable, but the wings and cold Blue Moon keep bringing us back. My husband and I are patient diners. We realize there are kinks to work out in a new restaurant full of new employees. It's excusable. But this visit was different.
For some reason we always seem to go on Biker Night. We are far from bikers but the people watching is fantastic. It's like Halloween! The entire crowd is proudly wearing their leather vests and bedazzled bandannas in this 100degree Texas heat. These bikers are loyal. When they find a place they like - a place that caters to inexpensive dinners, provides VIP bike parking, and did I mention they have really cold beer?
Our waitress, Latoya, gave us the low down. She said when it's biker night, they have huge tables, and their orders go in first because they're regulars and they want them to keep coming back. --- See what that is there? Customer retention.
Make the bikers happy and you've got a steady flow of revenue guaranteed each Wednesday. But what Latoya did right is not ignore the small tables and first timers. She set expectations from the beginning. She check on us often, and kept conversation going. She's on-boarding new customers and trying to instate loyalty.
Latoya pointed out a guy - who didn't look like the typical Quaker Steak & Lube patron (at least not on Biker Night - he looked more like one of my co-workers!). He was in khakis and carrying a laptop. She said he was from corporate - and he was there to find out why they were getting all the bad reviews. Diners were flowing in, wings were coming out of the kitchen, and people were laughing. Seeming to have a good time.
Then, she pointed out the owners. They were there to likely shake hands with the corporate guy. They likely all wanted the same thing - happy customers that will return for more wings (and cold beer).
After we paid our bill and finished those delicious Blue Moons, a manager of some sort came by and asked if we enjoyed our experience. I assured him we did and he asked if we wouldn't mind writing a Yelp Review. I asked him if he was surprised how much social media made a difference? His eyes got wide and he said Yes. It's everything.
Couple things we can take away from here:
- Latoya is a great waitress (salesman) who set up our expectations from the beginning and gave us the best possible service she could. If you sell things: do this. People will respect you in the morning.
- Customer (Bikers on Wednesday) is king. Show your loyalty to a brand and they should treat you right. If they don't reciprocate - there are plenty other vendors waiting to get your business.
- Show some compassion. Not everything works perfect. Everyone is human, even giant enterprise corporations. If you are a customer with an issue, find a human to speak to. Don't make sweeping decisions without getting the full story.
- Social Media and customer opinions (Yelp) matters. Everyone listens. You may not get the answer you want right away, but be rest assured - these companies are listening and they are finding ways to address your complaints.
- Blue Moon is really good. Best served from tap. With Wings.