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Lessons about customer service served on sitcom ‘Cheers’

Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 6, 2013 11:34PM



The sitcom “Cheers” revealed simply how to build customer loyalty and secure those endless referrals.

What was this simple customer service strategy?

Everyone knew everyone else’s name.

From Sam, the bartender, to Diane, the waitress, regular customers were called by name and new customers who in many cases had been recommended by a friend were greeted with a sincere hello and along with a name such as “Welcome, I am Sam” or “Hi, I am Diane.”

How many mid-size to small businesses to larger organizations such as banks would benefit from the simplicity of this business growth strategy?

For example, within the financial institutions, there is a lot of ship-jumping of bank branch managers and vice presidents. Usually what happens when a bank employee leaves everything is hushed up or something is quietly said as “he or she no longer works here.”

The new branch manager arrives and makes no attempt to reach out to customers who walk through the doors. Maybe, the manager makes a brief and polite hello, but no formal introduction happens. There is no attempt to engage the customer; to establish a relationship.

Heaven forbid for the manager to introduce himself or herself and engage in some meaningful conversation! After all, these financial institutions only hold, in many instances, much of the capitol assets of most of their customers

Why should anyone want to talk to these customers?

How does this make these loyal customers feel especially if those customers are small business owners?

Do these customers now regret making a referral to this particular bank branch or financial institution?

Maybe the cold impersonal reception might be just enough for the loyal customer to take up a recommendation by another small business colleague and open an account with a new bank? And trust me, small business owners get countless referrals with banks being close to the top if not number one.

Loyal customers are money in the bank, excuse the pun. However, as much as they can help small businesses to even larger institutions grow; they can also hurt them through negative word of mouth messaging.

Customer loyalty research suggests that one in three customers will share a positive customer experience while most customers will share a negative experience with four other people. Additionally negative word of mouth influences future patronage (think customers) five times more than the person who had the negative experience.

Building loyal customers who make high quality referrals that continue to fill the small business sales funnels only makes good leadership sense. And what could be easier than being friendly by knowing the names of your customers?

P.S. Shout Out to Giovanni’s in Munster and Pesto’s in Valparaiso, both serve great Italian food and have great customer service.



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