5 Ways To Forge Loyal Customers
By: Ashish Gambhir

There’s a hole-in-the-wall dim sum place in my neighborhood. It’s the standard fare: quaint ambiance, faux wooden floors, decent pork shumai. What’s remarkable about this restaurant is not the decor or the cuisine; it’s not about to make the Zagat list any time soon. The quality that elevates this place into the 99th percentile of restaurants I have patroned is its service.

What keeps me going back?

1. Selfless service

I love squid. This dim sum place makes great squid. I arrived, mouth-watering in anticipation, for squid one evening only to be informed by the waitress that they had already sold out. My countenance grew despondent. Glimpsing my disappointment, the waitress told me to hold on a moment. To my great pleasure, she arrived moments later with a steaming heap of eight-tentacled delight that she had been saving for her own meal. That’s service.

2. The regular effect

I walk in; I hear the tinkle of bells strung on the door; and like clockwork, “welcome back! Squid today?” Loyal customers are scarce in today’s fickle consumer environment. Treat them well.

3. Million-dollar smile

A smile conveys enthusiasm. It’s universal, and it’s extremely easy.

4. Meticulous minds

The small things may just be the icing on the cake — but who would want cake without any icing on it? Details matter. The tablecloth, the precisely arranged flower bouquet on each desk — even if they don’t really complement the design of the restaurant — are critical elements that let guests know their experience is being given thought.

5. Customer > profit

Often we seek counsel from our waiters: how large is this dish? What goes well with this wine? What’s the meaning of life? We place a great deal of trust in servers as veterans of their venue, and our stomachs and wallets alike depend on their sagacity. The easy path in this situation would be to ceaselessly recommend the most expensive items in a nefarious bid to boost profit, yet at my dim-sum restaurant the waiters speak with great candor about the virtues of sub-$10 dishes. Putting the customer experience at the forefront is the easiest way to endear guests.