Just down the street from my house is a Walgreens. For those of you who don’t know, Walgreens is a place to pick up your prescriptions but also a place for small items you forgot at the grocery store. From aspirin to cards to glow in the dark necklaces, you can find just about anything. However, this is not just a typical Walgreens store, this is a place where a model of great customer experience lives. His name is Juan. You would not know this to look at him. Juan is an older gentleman, he speaks fluent Spanish in addition to his excellent English. Over the years Juan and I have made small conversations. I would ask about his grandkids and he would ask about my kids. He always has a smile and greets me when I come through the door. What made me write this article about him, you ask? Simple, one day while checking out my conglomerate of items, Juan said “You know, your son was in here with his buddies the other day and bought an energy drink. Those drinks can be harmful, do you want him to drink those?” Understanding his concern I said, “He only gets one a week, so if you see him get more, you let me know. Thanks Juan!” Juan knows he can’t prevent my son from buying the drinks because he works at Walgreens, but he was kind enough to let me know what my teenager was up to so I could intervene with some parenting if needed. It’s this extra level of compassion that inspired me to write about him. I started to think about what Juan does that sets him apart from other workers and other stores. Why do I always use this local Wallgreens instead of the CVS around the block or the 7-11 across the street? What is it that Juan does to exemplify the customer experience? It comes down to these 5 essential ways:
- Be familiar: Juan knows my name and my family member’s names. It was not instantaneous familiarity. He saw my name and used it, looking me in the eye to confirm that he was pronouncing it correctly. I nodded yes and saw his name on his name tag and said his name. Later, I came in with my kids, he asked their names in a pleasant way “Who is this big fella here?” Always smiling, very cordial. Important point though, when he knew our names, he didn’t forget.
- Be inquisitive: Juan would never let the check out transaction be a boring one. He always asked something different. “What are you all doing today?” “How’s everything?” “Hows that tall boy of yours?” “Where’s your daughter, I haven’t seen her lately?” I wasn’t offended by these questions and was happy he asked.
- Be humorous: The checkout would never leave without a joke about something. One day I was with my son and as I was putting items on the counter, Juan looked at my teenager square in the eye and said “Are you buying these for your mom?” Now, Juan knows my son does’t have a job and couldn’t pay for it. But my son would smile at him shyly and we would all laugh. I would reply “Juan, he may have to work in the back, do you have a job for him?” Juan’s eyes would light up and he would say “Oh yeeesss!” My teenager at this point would would grin and try to grab the bag of stuff to get out the door. It’s all in good fun but my son is now thinking that he might have to work to pay for stuff right?
- Be consistent: Now every time I go to Wallgreens, I am hoping Juan is there to do our usual joke. It’s a little silly but this is what we usually do. When I rush into the store, if he sees me first, he will say to me “Merry Christmas, Brenda!” (keep in mind, it’s the middle of July) and I laugh and greet him with “Happy New Year, Juan!” It’s our joke and I feel special. We may use other holiday type greetings but I always think of one that he’s not using. It’s a fun exchange. Juan is also consistently smiling and talking to everyone like he knows them as friends. It’s expected behavior from him with everyone, not just me.
- Be sincere: Even if Juan is having a rough day, he will tell me. The other day he said in response to my “How are you doing today Juan?” with “Oh, I am tired today, my allergies are acting up.” All I have to do is nod my head in understanding and we move on to the smiles and wish each other well. I know he is sincere because I know he is human.
Customer service, success or experience, whatever you want to call it, is really about a creating a community that cares about it’s patrons. You can get to know your customers well enough to go the extra mile and make an impression which creates a loyal community. Who do you know in your community store that does this for you? How can your business implement these to give your customers the best experience?