Make a raving fan

At the supermarket I used to go to, there was a sign hanging in the deli area, ostensibly for the bla bla blabenefit of the staff, “Make a raving fan.”  It was a reminder to offer customers (like me) the first slice of meat or cheese so I could be sure it was exactly what I wanted.  I’m not sure I was a “raving fan” of the deli department, but I did like the sample.

This weekend, I had another experience where someone wanted me to be a raving fan: my nail salon.  (Had enough of sports-related business metaphors?  Read on.)

Every other weekend I get my nails done.  It takes about an hour, and I agonize for at least 10 minutes over the color.  Most of the staff is from Vietnam, and their English ranges from passable to conversational.  They’re all very nice.  The owner is extremely friendly, and makes an effort to know every customer by name, which means she keeps hundreds of names in her head – and is almost always right.

This weekend, Kim was doing my nails.  Kim’s English is pretty good, and we chatted about my daughter and her daughter.  When all the filing and cleaning and buffing was done and it was time to put on my chosen color, there was something wrong with the polish.  I don’t know if it had chemically separated or what, but it wasn’t coming out the right color.

Kim immediately sprung into action.  She brought over three different colors and put one on each of three of my fingers, and let me choose what I wanted.  She choose great options and I immediately liked one.  She verified after the second coat that I definitely liked the color.  She told me that it was similar to a color she knows I have chosen in the past.  Then she took the glitter coat I had chosen and applied it more times than is usually done so it really showed up and looked great.

As she was putting on the glitter I thought, “wow, she’s doing this as if it were her own daughter’s nails, or her own nails.  She wants this to come out looking great.”

It was the opposite of the tuna bagel place I used to go to, where I’d look at a sandwich and wonder if the person making it would actually eat it.  It was the opposite of the coffee places I go to where if there is no “medium” size, I’m on my own in ordering a cup.  It was someone wanting to solve my actual problem and provide great service.

As we seek to be customers’ “trusted advisors”, how do we transform that from being a hackneyed, elusive goal to an actual role we can play?  I can remember Dell’s top customers saying that they felt like their sales teams were literally extensions of their own teams – the relationship was so frictionless, and added so much value, that they felt like Dell’s salespeople were members of their team.

This is a hard goal, surely, but one to aspire too.

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