I don’t know about you, but this time of year there seems to me no more appealing treat than ice cream. In a cone, slightly melted, preferably with sprinkles, and after a day at the beach. My favorite spot on the way home from the beach is a local shop called Boombalatti’s. Everything is made in-house and it is wonderful. The homemade waffle cones add another layer of delish.
Here’s what I don’t understand, and it seems to be a standard practice for ice cream shops everywhere. Why you scoop, deliver and THEN take care of the money? Someone is going to end up with sticky fingers and the delayed enjoyment of the ice cream is just plain cruel. Don’t these shop owners see the awkward fumbling, the pained expressions, the melted ice cream dribbling down an expensive outfit or bag? Granted, this is very much a first world problem, but the solution does not involve rocket science, brain surgery, or even big data.
Lest this come across as an excuse to talk about food (again), there’s something here all business owners can learn. Is there something about your business model, your product, your service, your customer service, your billing or ANYTHING that is less than ideal for your customers? Is there just ONE thing you could improve that would make your ice cream shop the one that creates the PERFECT summertime experience?
In the case of the melting treat, it should be easy to observe the discomfort of the customer. In other businesses, however, you may have to do a little more sleuthing. People generally enjoy giving their opinions, so the best way to find out is just to ask! For one month, you could end every conversation with a quick question. My bank did this for a while with, “Have I provided you with the best possible service today?” Retail stores will often ask, “Did you find everything OK?”
Let’s Get More Specific with Our Register Questions
The bank question always made me smile a little because, what was I going to say? “Well, you were nice, service was quick, and you handled my money properly, but what would really have made this the best possible service would be a biscotti to go with my iced coffee.” The problem is, it’s too general.
The retail clerks who ask, “Did you find everything OK?” may or may not listen and record my answer (because sometimes yes, I do say, well, yes, except that soap I came for seems to be out of stock). But the problem with THAT question is that we hear it so often, we tune it out and reply, “yes” – much the same way we answer, “Fine” when someone asks how we are doing.
Shake people out of that rut and gather some truly useful information by asking something very specific. Then, change it up in a month. If you want to know how your service professionals perform in the field, ask customers, “Were the technicians courteous and did they call before they arrived?” AT&T does this (kudos!).
If you own a retail store and really want to know if people found what they were looking for, instead ask, “Is there anything else you wish we carried?” If you own an ice cream store, you could ask, “Do you enjoy fumbling through your wallet while your single scoop of cinnamon caramel oatmeal cookie ice cream drips onto your foot?” 🙂
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