Bad LSM: The “Pre-Close”
Picture this: it’s Friday night at 7:30 PM. You’re working the closing shift at the local coffee shop, and things are starting to wind down, as you close at 8:00 PM. So, you do your best to clean up what you can, and start day dreaming about what you’ll do after you leave work – maybe go catch a movie, maybe meet up with friends, maybe just go home and go to bed. But, then at 7:50 PM, a group of customers walk in and are excited to see that you’re still open – they’re ready to order coffees, pastries and catch up with each other.
Now, at this point, you have two options:
1) Make it about them:
Give them a great experience and make them feel at home – just like you would with a customer at any other time of the day.
2) Make it about you:
Give them less than adequate service, hoping they’ll hurry up and leave. Don’t they know you close in 10 minutes?
Make Your Customers Feel Welcome
Let’s look at this type of interaction from the point of view of a first-time customer – someone who has never visited this coffee shop before. The first interaction is likely to create a loyal customer – one that feels welcome and appreciated, and is likely to return. The second interaction is likely to push that customer to spend their money elsewhere – and hope for a better experience!
Don’t get us wrong – we’re not saying you need to go to extremes to accommodate a customer who is banging on your door 1 hour after you have locked your doors. But, we are saying that you, as the leader of your team, need to make it known that closing procedures (sweeping, mopping, re-stocking, dusting, register closing, etc.) should never interfere with a customer’s experience of your brand or make them feel like they are “in the way” of you doing your job. If your door is unlocked, you are open for business and at the beck and call of your customers (in theory).
Here are some real examples of small businesses making customers feel less than welcome:
- Turning off the music, making the shop or restaurant feel closed
- Closing all but one register, creating a slow check-out experience
- Roping off sections of a restaurant, or putting chairs on tables 1-2 hours before closing
- Cleaning around guests
- Employees avoiding “late” customers, so they don’t have to prolong their time in the store
- Locking customers out as they approach the door
- Blocking off fitting rooms
- Blocking off, or “closing down” condiment bars at fast casual restaurants
If based on your behavior, a customer has to ask, “Wait, are you still open?” you’re failing at your job in the customer service industry. The hours of operation sign designates when customers may enter your business, not when you have the “right” to go home.
What other bad behavior have you seen out there?