It’s human nature to be wanted. You meet someone for the first time and have a great conversation at lunch, dinner or over coffee, the ultimate compliment is when either party says to the other, “Let’s do this again. And let’s do it soon.” An invitation is motivating. We are hot-wired with mirror neurons to respond positively to positive, friendly requests.
Think about dating, most of us have, and we all know how important and special it feels, especially at the end of the first date to hear that it would be nice to see you next week. When you are invited to return, it makes you feel wanted and accepted. Customers who purchase goods and services are people. Those businesses that understand the value of inviting customers to return will reap the advantage of a repeat customer.
I live in New York City. There does not seem to be an official count of restaurants in Manhattan, but unofficially there are over 10,000. Even if people living in the city eat locally, there are probably at least 200 choices just in their neighborhood within a short walk or a few stops on the subway. Eighty percent of restaurants that open during any year will close within the next 5 years. Good food is important, dollar value is vital and delivering an exceptional customer experience is critical to fight these statistics. But, those three ingredients will not always guarantee success.
My first visit to a restaurant in my neighborhood was more than memorable. The food was delicious and my waiter, Ronald, was incredible. He was welcoming, engaging, and knew the menu by heart. But what made the experience really special was that Ronald invited me to return. How? He told me he enjoyed serving me and wanted to see me again. Ronald gave me his cell number, the days he worked and his shifts. He suggested I text or call him directly whenever I wanted to dine and he would be my “waiter for life.” The result? This restaurant is our “go to” place to eat and we see Ronald often. Every time we’re with him, we’re with family.
It doesn’t matter if you own a gas station, manage a customer service department or a run a medical office. If your staff communicates the message that they are eager to see a customer another time, inviting customers to return can work wonders. Not only does the person feel good for the moment, it’s the gift that keeps on giving and makes the customer feel good.
You might say to yourself, do I really care if I see the same person at the grocery store, mall or restaurant? As Steve Jobs once stated, “sometimes people don’t really know what they want until they get it.” I know that most customers go back to the same coffee shop because the people behind the counter know their name, give them that welcoming smile and say, “I will see you tomorrow.” In any enterprise, knowing that someone wants to see you again makes a person feel good. Any company with employees who are able to create and nurture a relationship and invite the customer to return, has the formula for generating repeat business.
Also read Richard’s opinion piece on if tipping should be banished or not