Building loyalty like Grandma’s Kitchen, one customer at a time.

I read a delightful book called Soup. The basis of the book is a fictional story of a small local business, Grandma’s Kitchen.

As the story unfolds Grandma is greeting customers with a hearty hug and warm welcome. We discover that Grandma’s business philosophy and those of her employees (the soup makers) includes showering customers with unexpected ingredients.

When you do something for a customer that is positive and unexpected, you etch that event in their memories.

This philosophy sprinkled throughout the story: a business creates a culture that helps build long-term loyalty and trust.

Here is as example of how one local business in my community builds loyalty by delivering the “unexpected.”

People who hear the term “car repair service” might think, “Ugh.” My story illustrates a different experience; a story that demonstrates how “soup makers” in any business create business success by building customer loyalty one customer at a time.

A few years ago, my vehicle developed a problem with the defroster, no heat. Two months earlier, it was in the shop for repair of a faulty alternator.

You might be thinking, sounds like she needs a new car. However, I had a dilemma; my vehicle was a manual shift, 4WD SUV, difficult to find in today’s technology-driven automobile. Fortunately, my service center appreciated the love I had for my vehicle and treated it like it was the newest top-of-the-line model.

I called the dealer and scheduled an appointment to have the defroster problem checked out. The next morning, I appeared at the service desk to check-in. The service manager greeted me by name, listened, and took notes as we reviewed the problem. I headed for the customer lounge to await the verdict; there was coffee and Wi-Fi—I was happy!

As I waited, the service manager regularly popped in to communicate updates. At the end of an hour, he returned to deliver the verdict. While pinpointing the defroster issue, the mechanic had noticed my State inspection period was coming due. As a precaution, he examined my vehicle for potential problems that might prevent it from passing the inspection.

The problems the mechanic discovered were many. But, because of his initiative, the service manager and I were able to work out a plan to manage all of the repairs in a timeframe that fit my schedule and budget. I was provided a quote for the work and a date was scheduled for repair.

The very next day, I received a follow-up call that the ordered parts had been delivered and that the dealer would be providing a loaner car while my car was in the shop.

My car was repaired. The total bill came in under the quote; the service manager had incorporated several coupon specials towards the repairs. An unexpected and nice surprise for me!

The dealership service center is an excellent example of how showering your customer with unexpected ingredients builds trust and loyalty.

Consider these tips for building loyalty by doing something for a customer that etches their experience in their memories.

  • Acknowledgement. Acknowledge your clients. Greet them by name. If you’re on the phone, end the conversation if possible or look up and smile. Be relatable.
  • Communicate. Maintain communication, especially if clients are waiting for answers. Periodically provide status updates, ask if there is anything they need.
  • Pay Attention. Listen and have an ear for catching cues. Take notes to show you are listening.
  • Initiative. Be proactive. Seize the initiative and head off potential problems that may result in schedule or cost problems for the customer.
  • Incentive. Offer coupons or special incentives, particularly when they are unaware it exists and results in a cost savings.
  • Follow up. No matter what service is provided follow-up is key. In the case of the dealership, the brand sends out a detailed online survey. Follow-up is essential for finding out if the unexpected brought value to your customer.
  • Go the extra mile!

In today’s economy, building loyal customers vs. a one timer is a game changer. Find ways to offer “something unexpected” as a regular part of your customer’s experience.

How do you build long-lasting loyalty with your customers? Share your advice for building trust and loyalty one customer experience at a time.