Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

September 26th, 2009

Make Your Customers Feel Like Stars!


Here are six secrets from the world of celebrity that will get your customers buzzing about you..

If Johnny Depp walked into your workplace today, how would you behave? If you’re like most people, you’d drop whatever you were doing and approach him, smiling, ready and eager to serve him. If Halle Berry walked into your restaurant, you’d immediately escort her to the best seat in the house. If Tom Hanks was on the phone asking questions, you’d do whatever you could to get him his answers…cheerfully…right?

What about the rest of your customers?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Of course, we’d treat them exactly the same way!” Maybe. In general, though, customer service has become a “buzz phrase” that is rarely lived up to. A study done by Connell and Associates found that 45% of all respondents felt that most companies simply do not provide good customer service. In a Harris Interactive Study 80% of respondents stated they had made the decision to never do business with a company again because of bad customer service.

How can you – the business owner or service professional – turn this trend around?

By treating your customers like stars!

As Garrett Richter, president and CEO of the First National Bank of Florida, tells his employees, “If we roll out the red carpet for billionaires, they won’t even notice it. If we roll out the red carpet for millionaires, they expect it. If we roll out the red carpet for thousandaires, they appreciate it. And if we roll out the red carpet for hundredaires, they tell everybody they know.”
To his point, the same Harris Interactive Study found that 60% of respondents said the main reason they would recommend a company is outstanding customer service.

Here are six secrets from the world of celebrity that will get your customers buzzing about you.

1. Give Them a Red Carpet Arrival

When a celebrity arrives for a movie premiere or a charity function, it’s a big deal! There’s a red carpet. There are photographers. There are hundreds of fans lined up, shouting their name and begging for a chance to spend even two seconds with the star. When the rest of us arrive at a place of business, we’re lucky if we can even get someone to acknowledge us. Treat your customers like stars by showing them you’re glad they came. Look up, smile, walk out from behind the counter and greet them. Most people don’t need a fancy carpet or paparazzi – just eye contact is enough!

2. Call Them By Name

Motivational guru and author Dale Carnegie said that when
remember someone’s name you “make them feel important.” Remember your customer’s name and use it each time you see them. Make it a top priority, and you’ll find remembering names easier than you think. You can also find unique ways of using someone’s name. For instance, High Point University welcomes all expected guests with their own parking space designated by a sign bearing….you guessed it…their name. Some restaurants name dishes after famous people. What if you named some of your products after your best customers? Now that’s the star treatment!

3. Remember and Refer

Aside from their name, remember other details about your customer as well and refer to them. When one grocery store manager recalled that the “grumpy lady who comes in on Wednesdays” had been to Chicago to visit her daughter, he asked her about the trip….and made her day! Now, that once grumpy customer seeks the man out with a smile on her face whenever she comes into the store. It doesn’t take much to make ordinary people feel special. Just pay attention.

4. Cater to their Personal Preferences

While your customer may not be as picky as the celebrity who wants all the brown M&M’s taken out of his candy dish, everyone has their likes and dislikes. Surprise your customer in little ways and let them know you are paying attention. In his former career as a banker, Author and Speaker Dave Timmons earned the business of a prospect after he tossed him two baseballs signed by the members of his grandsons’ favorite sports team. One hotel dining room supervisor heard a guest say that she enjoyed blood oranges, so he secretly had a few brought up to her room. Delight people in this way and you and your business become unforgettable.

5. Give Them SWAG!

At every awards show celebrities walk away with gift bags filled with products and paraphernalia worth thousands. There is a reason why people line up – and even pay good money – to give their goods away to celebrities via the swag bag. When the superstar wears or uses their product, it creates buzz. When Katrina Campins, star of the first season of The Apprentice wore a watch on the show that was given to her by Jacob the Jeweler, she was swamped with calls from men wanting to buy one for their wives. While your customers may not have the platform that Katrina had to show off your product, when you give them something for free they will talk about it. Just watch how much press Ben & Jerry’s gets next time they hold a “Free Cone Day.” What kind of swag can you give your customers to get them talking about you?

6. Be Extraordinary…And Then Some.

Make a commitment to be remarkable in every way that you serve your customer. Be the first one to respond. Have the widest smile in the room. Call everyone by name. Constantly be on the lookout for little ways that you can make your customer feel like the most important person in the world. When you do, you will find yourself not only with a customer for life, but with a raving fan that will go out and spread the word about their incredible

About the Author

Donna Cutting

Donna Cutting, President and CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of Donna Cutting Presents!, is a nationally recognized expert in employee engagement and extraordinary customer service. A stage actress turned author and professional speaker, Donna helps leaders create places where employees get Standing Ovations and customers get Star Treatment.

She is the author of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Red Carpet Customer Service, published by Wiley. Donna went right to the source – Hollywood -  spending a year and a half interviewing people who own, manage, or work for companies that cater to the Tinsel town elite to learn what “real world” businesses can do to provide celebrity-caliber service.

As a professional speaker, Donna is anything but ordinary!  Combining her experience in the theater and her passion for fun, she delivers her content in a high energy style with her trademark enthusiasm.  Her presentations mix include hilarious Keynote Theater™ bits, side-splitting song parodies and exceptional audience interaction. Donna combines her dramatic, fun and humorous style of presenting with easy and action-oriented/practical ideas and strategies that people can implement immediately.

Donna doesn’t provide a speech, she provides an experience.

And when Donna speaks, it’s the AUDIENCE that’s the STAR of the SHOW!

Prior to becoming a speaker and author, Donna spent almost two decades managing creative programs and leading employee engagement initiatives in the healthcare field. She was also the owner of Whimsical Notions Interactive Theater company and performed one woman shows for children and adults across the state of Florida for four years.

The Past President of the National Speakers Association of Central Florida, Donna was recently named the winner of the prestigious Rosita Perez Spirit Award, and was elected Chapter member of the year in 2003. Donna is a member of Athletes and Executives, the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, and Recognition Professionals International. She is a volunteer dreamweaver for Second Wind Dreams, an organization that helps make dreams come true for elders living in nursing homes and assisted living communities.

Donna lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with her husband and best friend, Jim and their Maltese puppy, Snowball.



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