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    Welcome Back! Long Time, No See.

    Posted by Luis Serpa on December 6, 2006 - 11:12 PM

    Warm WelcomeI chose this title for two reasons. First, it has been two weeks since my last entry (I was on vacation and, believe it or not, it is good to be back). The second is to tell you all about my experience in Brazil, my home country, two years after I came to live in the U.S.
    I wanted to see the restaurants and stores I used to enjoy for so many years before I moved. I wanted to see old places and old faces, and hoped for a wholehearted welcome.

    Nobody recognized me!

    I know I should have expected that. After two years, many things change, but somehow I managed to think I was special, remarkable and that people would remember me. Shouldn’t they?

    Well, after the initial shock, my professional side kicked in and I analyzed the whole situation from a customer experience standpoint. Of course, I was not remarkable to the shop owners. I wasn’t a regular customer, just a prospective customer. I didn’t remember their names, so why should they remember mine? But the point is that no matter how illogical or unreasonable my feeling was, I still expected to be remembered.

    Every customer knows he is special. Everyone thinks that her needs are the most important. Everyone hopes to be treated as a special someone.

    The problem is that you can’t possibly know every one of your face-to-face customers, right? Well, more or less… Good salesmen always seem to know everyone. They enthusiastically welcome you every time with greetings such as “Long time, no see,” “How have you been?” and “What do you need today?” Surely they don’t remember everyone, but they “read” the customer and understand her body language. At the very least, they treat every customer as an old friend, even if it the first time they’ve met.

    So what was wrong with all Brazilian places I visited? Do they all have bad salespeople? Maybe. But I bet the problem lies a little deeper. Stores and restaurants are starting to rely too much on technology and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Technology is great when you go to a website and it brings back your last purchase and suggests products you may want, but that doesn’t work in the real world. At least not until the technology evolves to the point where you can be recognized at the moment you enter the store, before even talking to anyone.

    For now, the closest you can get is the Sam’s Club approach:

    “May I have your Sam’s card, please?” asks the cashier… You reach for your wallet, search for the card among a dozen others and finally deliver it to him.

    “One minute please,” he replies, automatically scanning your items.

    “That will be $107.35. How do you want to pay?” 
    You provide your credit card and the cashier quickly finishes the transaction while you read a sign that says “If the cashier doesn’t greet you by name, you will earn $1.00.”

    “Thank you, LUIS, have a good day!” says the cashier in a mechanized way.


    Was that it? All that trouble just to hear my name before going home? Not exactly the way to make someone feel remembered or special.

    However, several stores and salespeople are relying more and more on those techniques and forgetting to deal with the customers in the good old fashioned way: getting to know them (or at least acting as if they know them).

    My next post will be about how to efficiently adapt technology to face-to-face situations. But for now, suffice it to say that nothing will ever replace a good attitude in customer interactions.

    Welcome back… And have a good day!

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    2 Responses to “Welcome Back! Long Time, No See.”

    1. Welcome Back! Long Time, No See….

      I chose this title for two reasons. First, it has been two weeks since my…

    2. CRM in Real World Interactions – Part 1…

      In my last post (”Welcome Back! Long Time, No See“), I commented on how face-to face interactions are being affected by the reliance on technology, subsequently missing real customer relationship development opportunities. After posting it,…

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