“Good morning, Mary!” says the barista, Sarah, as the door of Starbucks opens. Mary lights up as she walks up to the counter to order her usual. I’m sitting here, sipping on my “Peach Tranquility” tea, eating a snack and doing a little work.
A few minutes later, I hear Sarah say, “Hi, Dan, how’s the morning treating you?” They visit for a couple of minutes. Dan leaves, coffee in hand, with a smile on his face.
Next, with some effort, an elderly fellow extracts himself from a big cushy armchair he’s clearly been sitting in for more than a little while. As he puts on his coat, he approaches the counter to thank Sarah – she says, “It was great to see you today, Larry, have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you next week.”
These people are obviously regulars. They belong here and Sarah makes them feel special each time they come into the store. It reminds me of the classic sitcom, “Cheers!” When the regular pulls open the door and ambles up to the bar, the entire place erupts with, “Norm!” Just like the show, this coffee shop is a place where everybody knows your name. If you’re a regular, you can bet that you will arrive and leave feeling special, well-cared for and loved. Admittedly, I’m a little jealous of Mary, Dan and Larry – they clearly belong here (I’m just an occasional customer) and Sarah is a genuine pro for recognizing them and instilling that feeling of loyalty and love. She’s seriously happy to see her people – they are seriously happy to be here – each one of them moves on to the next part of their day feeling fabulous.
So, what’s going on here? Is it all business? Is it just genuine altruism? It’s probably both. Call it customer care or great training or just nice people doing nice things, it is working well for this place. The fact that Sarah calls people by their name, smiles at them as they enter, and generally knows what they plan to order, are all signs of someone doing it right. And, let’s face it, there’s something about hearing one’s name. As I’ve said before, our names are the most personal things we own and we freely dole them out to whoever will accept them. When they speak our names back to us, we get a wonderful, warm, welcoming feeling – it’s the feeling that somebody cares, that others know who we are, that we matter.
The lesson here: Personalize your interactions. Call people by their name. Show sincere interest and concern in who they are. Make them feel special. You will generate a level of affection and devotion that money cannot buy. It’ll make you feel great in return.