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I just came home from food shopping. Sam’s Club, the supermarket, and finally, the neighborhood butcher, where we have been buying all of our meat and cold cuts for the past 11 years. And I’m always amazed at this little neighborhood store. It’s not a pretty shop; it’s in a strip mall that could definitely benefit from a facelift, and yet, the place is always packed, and I mean always. And I’ll tell you why.

Everyone who works in this store is incredibly accommodating, courteous and friendly. I have never in 11 years had poor service. It is chaotic because it’s always so crowded, but you never wait more than 5 minutes. Everyone smiles and appears happy to help, even the newest generation of young ones learning the ropes. And they still figure out your tab on a little piece of paper, sometimes with a calculator, even though they have high-end registers.

It’s a family business, but the training must be rigorous. It’s got to be tough to smile at every customer when there are at least 15 people crowding the store. However, I bet it’s easy to smile at the end of the day when cashing out the register.

So here’s the thing. The owner of this store probably lives in the lap of luxury because he creates the ultimate customer experience in his little neighborhood shop. Customers buy “the experience.” Sure, they are buying a product too, but I can get cold cuts in at least 5 different places by my house, and I will only go to the butcher, even though he’s not the least expensive. I’ll wait until Monday because they are closed on Sunday if I have to. I know when I go into this shop, someone will always smile at me and brighten my day.

I try to live by those same principles in my own business, even though it’s online. I’m courteous and happy to serve. I’m accommodating and I always try to be cheery, even in the face of chaos. Because I want my customers to come back and have that same experience again. My albums are unique and they aren’t the least expensive. I know if I don’t treat my customers like the gold they are, while they may like my product, they’ll find something else and a better experience somewhere else. To have any thriving business, repeat customers are a huge part of the equation.

Treat your customers like gold. And you’ll go home from your little “neighborhood” shop much richer for the experience.

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