Loyalty is not built overnight, but it can start with a single event. This past week I was in Nashville celebrating my wife’s birthday and had some great experiences. I thought you might enjoy hearing about them as you think about “customer experiences” and how they can create “customer loyalty.”
Consistency is still KING. One particular experience we had in Nashville was to sample some of the local cuisine – very different from the Pacific Northwest to be sure. I never knew you could deep fry so many things! I wonder if new homes come with built in Deep Fryers in addition to the stove and cooktops. One restaurant we experienced was called Caney Fork Fish Camp, just outside of Opryland. We went there to try the local delicacy of “fried pickles” – which we heard were one of a kind. They were.
The fried pickles were, in my humble opinion, excellent! I’m not sure I could make a steady diet of them but they were certainly an unusual treat. I’m ahead of myself a bit so let me back up. When we got to the restaurant, the hostess was actually quite rude and seated us in the bar – away from the ambience and action. I asked to be moved and it seemed like a big imposition. First impression – not good. However, when the waitress came to great us she was totally opposite – super wound up and friendly. Happy to help, she immediately put things on a better course. By the end of the meal we met the manager and she was super friendly and very willing to talk to us “outsiders” about their restaurant, cuisine and culture.
So in the end, we had a great experience and left willing to recommend the restaurant to others. But it could have gone the other direction. I am still puzzled how they allowed the hostess to treat us like she did and set the “inconsistent” tone to be one I could have walked away from. If she had been consistent, they would have captured me from the start and I would have been beaming. As it is, I would warn everyone to ignore the hostess and focus on the waitress and manager. That is unnecessary and certainly wasn’t the impression they wanted to leave.
So if you want to capture the hearts, minds and feelings of your audience from the beginning, make sure your first impression is your strongest. It can carry the day and certainly allow you to jump start your way to building unsurpassed loyalty. Do a “self-audit” of your own organization – is the first impression ALWAYS consistent with the impression you want everyone to leave with? If not, time to start over.