Customers in restaurant

How to keep your loyal customers when it’s time to grow the team

Recruiting staff is an essential part for any business, especially in an expanding one. But getting a new person onboard is something most business owners are anxious about. The human factor is both exciting and terrifying.

So how to approach this complicated process? Here’s a few paragraphs to guide you in the right direction:

Go for a constructive attitude

If you serve food with a smile but your new waiter does so with a frown, all the goodwill you’ve earned can be easily wiped out forever. You don’t have to hire an army of ‘mini-mes’, but it’s essential your new staff share your view and attitude towards customer service.

Our clever friend over at Stockholm School of Economics, professor Magnus Söderlund, says: “When hiring, present candidates with real-case scenarios about dealing with difficult situations. Make sure potential hires have a positive, constructive attitude to problem solving. Never assume a hire will have the same approach as you.”

Magnus Söderlund
Magnus Söderlund, Stockholm School of Economics

If you’re really daring, you can even send a friend or a colleague to visit your potential employee at their current workplace. Have them order a long and tricky food order, ask detailed questions regarding the chicken’s organic origin and complain about everything. See how the candidate handles this rather stressful situation, but don’t be too hard on them.

Leeway for the loyal customers

The person working the counter of your café sees your loyal customers on a daily basis, and knows what pastry they want with their latte macchiato. So why not put some trust into your staff and give them leeway to reward the most loyal customers?

In the UK last month, coffee chain Pret a Manger’s revealed its policy of allowing baristas to give free coffees to their favourite customers. The news went down a storm with the media and the company’s chief executive revealed they considered loyalty cards but decided they “… didn’t want to spend all that money building up some complicated Clubcard-style analysis.”

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Encourage your staff!

People tend to respond to encouragement, so encourage your staff to do the right thing, whatever that thing might be.

One heart-warming story on the topic is about Christian, an 18 year-old who works at Aldi in Manchester. This ordinary young lad did something extraordinary in terms of customer service, and ensured customer loyalty for a lifetime. Walking his 95 year-old customer home with his groceries, earned Christian massive press and social media coverage and he became a local hero.

His was of course an extraordinary initiative, but it’s a great example of how your employees can go the extra mile (literally).

Recruit outside the box 

A job advert is still one of the most popular avenues for recruiting staff and works perfectly fine for lots of people. But you should also explore less traditional ways to find your new barista. Be creative and have an open mind, you might find the people you’re looking for in unlikely places.

For example that delightful assistant who always makes you smile when you go to the local post office however long the queue is? Maybe they will turn out to be just what your business needs.

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Do this today:

  • Discuss three difficult customer situations with your staff and talk about how to handle them in a constructive manner.
  • Empower your staff – give them the freedom to delight a customer this week with a free drink, meal or product.
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Published by

Sarah Lee

Director of Customer Engagement at iZettle

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