I walk into Rishi’s International Beverage to purchase my annual “alcohol inspired” client gifts. Within seconds of walking in the door, the owner Rishi, who is finishing up with another customer, locks eyes with me, comes over and gives me a hearty hug and a warm hello! He knows exactly who I am, yet I only visit his store once a year for approximately 10 minutes (admittedly, I do spend hundreds of dollars in that span of time :)). He springs into action – knowing my intention for locating specialty, high-end, totally indulgent selections. He escorts me around the store, inquiring about my executive clients, one by one. “So tell me about this guy – what’s he like, what’s his personality, what’s your price point, what type of alcohol?” Trusting him implicitly with the task of making the perfect selection (he hasn’t failed me yet!), I respond, “Well…he’s grounded, salt-of-the-earth, classy, manscaped (yes, I actually said that), he likes to drink X, and I want to spend about….” “I have just the perfect thing.” Done. He gives me a brief description and rationale about the choice – we’re on to the next one. One of my responses sends him into the back room to grab a special one-of-ten-from-the-private-inventory bottles of Bourbon. Buying from Rishi is fun. Plain and simple. This is not a liquor store, it is an Alcohol Emporium! He leads by example – his team is engaged, conversational, and professional. As I was paying, I thought, Hmmm…who would have thought, inspiring leadership at a liquor store…no, correction, inspiring LITER-SHIP at a liquor store! Ha!!
In Inc. Magazine’s article, “10 Things Every Customer Wants” author Geoffrey James, teases the reader with the the tagline: “Surprisingly, the best price and best value is at the bottom of the customer’s priority list.” The Top 10:
- Bring New Perspectives and Ideas (help the customer come up with workable solutions)
- Be Willing to Collaborate (customers do not want to be sold, they want you to work with them!)
- Have Confidence in Your Ability to Achieve Results (your confidence is contagious and knowledge in your product greatly impacts the customers’ belief in your solution)
- Listen, Really Listen, to the Customer (It’s about the customer not you – as much as you want to interject with the perceived product offering, let them finish)
- Understand ALL the Customer’s Needs (how will buying from you satisfy their product needs AND their personal needs?)
- Help the Customer Avoid Potential Pitfalls (customers what your help minimizing risk with the purchase…they are relying on you to help them)
- Craft a Compelling Solution (customers expect solution selling – defining and promoting a workable solution)
- Communicate the Purchasing Process (the expectation is no surprises, no last minute up-selling, plain and simple language about price)
- Connect Personally With the Customer (“ultimately every selling situation involves making a connection between two individuals who like and trust each other”)
- Provide Value that’s Superior to Other Options (#10, the first time price is mentioned…if you can’t meet the above 9, and the price is lower somewhere else, your customers should go buy from someone else!)
Amazingly, I could check of every one of these Top 10 in my 10-15 minute encounter with Rishi! It is no wonder he’s growing!
In the Harvard Business Review article “The State of Customer Service Leadership”, Leonard A. Schlesinger states,
Many of the essential skills that great service leaders must have are similar to those that are important for all general managers—effective communication, the analytic ability to size up a situation quickly, skills of reflection and concentration, and the ability to inspire others//The basic relationships between employees, customers, and financial results, in that order, that we set forth in the original service profit chain formulation still hold true. But a great deal of research over the past 20 years or so have put a lot of meat on those bones. As one example, we’ve come to learn more about creating the high-trust environment that leads to engaged employees who provide exceptional service that makes customers coming back for more—a combination that results in higher revenues and profits.
When I dropped off one of those special bottles of Bourbon to a CEO client, he said, “Oh wow, I can’t wait to try this, I’m going to enjoy this!” I assured him, “I’m sure you will too, Rishi always takes care of me!”. His eye got wide, his head tilted to one side, and he said “That’s funny, somebody else said the exact same thing just the other day!”
A reputation for LITER-ship! Cheers!!