Make every customer feel important

By Rich Lindblom, Contributor

For those of you old enough to remember “Saturday Night Live” in its heyday, comedian Dana Carvey created a character called the Church Lady, whose popular catchphrase was, “Well, isn’t that special?”

While Church Lady intended it as a reproach, the word “special” has a very different meaning in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: 

special (’spe-shel) adjective:

1: distinguished by some unusual quality; being in some way superior

2: held in particular esteem

After reading those definitions, let me ask you: Who wouldn’t want to feel special, even for a short while? Wouldn’t you?

Now put yourselves in your customer’s shoes. Don’t they deserve to feel special too?  If you could make them feel special, might they be more inclined to buy from you, rather than your competitors?

In most cases, your customers have plenty of places to choose from for their next appliance, TV, mattress, sofa, grill or anything else. With that in mind, I’d like to suggest that all things being equal, the store that makes them feel the most special is the one that’s most likely to get their business.  

Which means your job is to make every person who walks through your door feel special in some way or another.

So exactly how do you go about making a customer feel special?  Here are just a few of suggestions:

  • Greet them sincerely and let them know that you appreciate their visit.
  • Introduce yourself by your first name to establish a relationship.
  • Get their first name(s) and either write it down or make sure you commit it to memory.
  • Address them by their first name; it helps to reinforce the relationship.
  • Spend 80% of your time with them listening and only 20% talking.
  • Never talk over the customer. And when they do speak, truly hear what they are saying.  
  • Taking notes, nodding in agreement and making eye contact are other ways to show you are attentive and understand what they are saying.
  • When your interaction concludes, sincerely thank them for their time spent with you, whether they made a purchase today or not.

    The bottom line is that if you can make a customer feel special about doing something as commonplace as purchasing a washer or a TV or a recliner, you will not only make the sale but will also create a customer for life.

Rich Lindblom sold his 64-year-old family business, Advanced Maytag Home Appliance of Schaumburg, Ill., and now shares his more than four decades of retail experience with BrandSource members as product manager of AVB’s SYNC point-of-sale system and as a YSN columnist. You can reach Rich at

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