One of our clients owns a successful bread store. I noticed on a recent visit that there is a bell next to the oven. When I asked the owner what it is used for he replied, “We used to ring the bell when a loaf of bread came out of the oven, or when celebrating a new customer, or when someone had earned a free loaf of bread.”
I thought that was pretty cool. I also heard the “we used to.” It’s too bad they stopped, because I think ringing a bell is a great point of differentiation, and creates a unique and memorable customer experience. They don’t ring a bell at Panera. They don’t celebrate customers at the grocery store.
I get how easy it is to get away from ringing the bell. It happens all the time. People (and companies) slowly drift away from doing those little things that make their store or business different. It is rarely ever a conscious decision. It just happens over time.
There’s the clothing store that has chalkboard on the dressing room doors, but quit writing the customer’s name on the door. Too bad. It was a great way to personalize the experience.
Or the store associates who used to send five thank you cards a day, but haven’t sent any since they ran out of stamps. It’s a shame. I think the handwritten thank you card is even more effective in this digital age.
Sometimes it’s even smaller things. A staff stops exchanging names with the customer, or offering to carry out a purchase no matter how big or small. It’s easy to drift away, or stop ringing the bell.
It’s not ultimately about the bell, or the sign, or the thank you card. It’s the meaning and thought behind it. It’s that focus on the customer and how your store is different from the competition. What your competitor is doing isn’t nearly as important as what YOU are doing for your customers. Or what you used to do.
What’s your bell? What are one or two elements of your customer experience that maybe you’ve stopped doing? Or is there something you’ve talked about doing with/for your customers, but have yet to implement?
I’m happy to say that out client’s team is back to ringing the bell. It’s brought a new energy to the staff. Okay, to most of the staff, but more important, they’re back to doing one of the little things that made their customer experience memorable and unique. Believe me, the little things make a huge difference in retail. Especially when it’s about the customer.
So let me ask, what bell can you and your staff ring – or start ringing again – this week?