You’ve spent time, energy and effort creating a business. You’ve crunched numbers, created budgets and marketing plans. You’ve created a website, gotten published in directories and have created a social media presence that any business could be proud of. Any second now, new customers will come pouring through your doors to be greeted by… wait. Who WILL they be greeted by? More importantly, HOW will they be greeted? Is this decision going to be left to the creativity of the staff you hire? Or have you put time, effort and energy into developing systems for your staff to use? Recently, I was in a small business to meet with the owner about providing some SEO services for them. While I was waiting at a table in their dining room, I watched the business in action. It was a Hawaiian food restaurant, but they were known for their shave ice, as they had run a shave ice stand for a couple of years previous to opening their restaurant. I watched for ten minutes as customers would come in, place an order, pick up their order and either sit down to eat or leave with shave ice in hand. In just a very short time, it was clear that while this business owner had spent a lot of time working through the numbers and creating a strong web presence, not nearly enough time had gone into training the people that worked there. Basic customer service acumen such as eye contact and smiling were non-existent. The girl taking orders and money was not only not helpful to customers who had never been there before and didn’t know the drill, but she also didn’t know how to work the rewards program that the store front had in place, and she didn’t ask for help, so customers were just not able to get the points they should have accrued from their purchase. Customers were getting the wrong orders and the whole customer interaction cycle was awkwardly delivered. I wondered in the ten minutes that I watched, how many of these customers would be giving this place a second try. It was frustrating, because it is so unnecessary. You can create the perfect plan and the perfect web presence, but if you do not put effort into your customer service experience, you will always need to work hard for new customers. A few years ago, I attended an event called The Secret Service Summit. It was a two day intensive class on creating exceptional customer service, and thus, an exceptional customer experience. After the Summit, I worked through all the policies that we had in place and created systems for each area of our business that anyone comes into contact with customers. We want them to love us? We want them to come back? We want them to tell our friends? That does not happen consistently if we do not create systems to ensure that everyone one staff is creating the same experience. If you can’t make the time to attend a training event like the Summit, there are countless resources, including books by the same company that hosts the Summit that you can use as a guide. Don’t leave this one to chance. It is so much more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one!