I don’t say this to brag, but I get treated very well by a lot of companies:
- When I go to the coffee shop, I often get my coffee for free.
- When I wanted a new pair of shoes from a specific store, my sales rep hand-delivered them to my house, so I didn’t have to deal with “traffic” to get to the store.
- While traveling on speaking, I forgot my shaving cream. And a manager from Nordstrom drove 30 miles to hand deliver me my favorite shaving cream.
- When there was a 2 hour wait to be seated at a fancy restaurant, the host sat me… immediately. No questions asked.
- When I wanted to buy light bulbs quick, the line at the home goods store was long. But a manager opened a new register, just for me, and let me check out instantly.
It’s crazy, actually.
It happens all the time. Everywhere.
And if you ever went to dinner with me, you’d see it in real time, too. Even though I almost never order dessert, the waiter almost always brings out free dessert for the table.
The question is “HOW?”
The answer is as simple as: “BE A GOOD CUSTOMER.”
A few weeks ago, I went out to get a drink at a fancy hotel. My friend asked the host for a table, and they politely said, “It’s going to be about 45 minutes.” Then, as my friend came back to tell us the bad news, she noticed that I had already talked to someone and gotten us a table… immediately.
“Derek, how did you do that?”
Quite simple actually.
I saw the Maitre’D. I walked up, said “Hello,” and shook his hand. Then, I said, “I always love this hotel this time of year.” And it’s true. I do love this hotel. I then asked about tables, and he said there was going to be a wait. And I fired back, “How about ‘not waiting’ and just sit us right here.”
I know what you’re thinking…
“Wow, what an ass!”
Yeah, I sound like an ass in text. But it’s all about the delivery.
And no, I didn’t slip him a 20. The Maitre’D set a table up for us immediately. He just did it. Without being bribed.
So what happened? And why?
What it Really Means to Be a Good Customer
When I tell you to be a GOOD customer, it’s not about how much money you spend. You don’t need to be the best customer, from a financial perspective, to get treated well.
Instead, it means: the better you treat people, the better YOU get treated.
So, think about the people you talk to when you walk into a restaurant. Or a coffee shop. Or the people you talk to on the phone when you call a company. Usually these people don’t own the company, right?
They are normal people. Just like you and me. And they see so much nonsense… all the time… from people complaining about something as stupid as “I want a refund even though it’s 12 years past the refund period”… to some random list of curse words followed by unintelligible yelling of “ME ME ME ME ME ME ME.”
So, when you contrast that, even in a small way, you stand out. And when you make the extra effort to put yourself in the person’s shoes, you’re like a GIFT.
As an example, at the specific hotel bar: Why did I get seated immediately?
Well, I know one thing: The people who work there have careers in hospitality. You don’t work at a place like this without dedicating your life to hospitality. So, when I comment on the decor… the service… or anything related to the hospitality industry, I know they take great pride and joy in it. They do this for a living because they love it.
I don’t do this to be manipulative. I mention it because I know they care about this specific topic.
And that’s the key.
Most people give people generic compliments. And they conduct generic conversations. But when you take a few seconds to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and meet them where they are, the magic happens.
Here’s another example:
At my favorite coffee shop, I know that most baristas work as a barista as a “survival” job, but they are actually want to do something else…
Like this one barista who I think is remarkable. She loves coffee, and creating great coffee, and it shows. But she actually wants to be a professional drummer, and I make sure to ask her about drumming every chance I get. Again. Not to be fake. But because I like hearing about people and the dreams they want to pursue. I’m genuinely interested. And she loves talking about it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If the coffee shop is slammed, I don’t interrupt them with this sort of stuff. They are already stressed from the volume of people. So, I don’t bother people. I have my credit card ready. And I make my order quickly.
And then, when things quiet down, I almost always say something like, “WHERE’S THE FREE COFFEE SIGN AND WHY DIDN’T I GET ONE?” Or something equally as silly. Again, acknowledging the fact that these people just worked very hard to clear the queue. Because showing respect for the work people do, is also part of being a good customer.
One more example:
Sometimes when I call customer service for my phone company, I’ll lead with something as silly as, “Hey, what’s up. I’m Derek. How are you?” They’ll say, “Great, how can I help?” And I’ll say something like, “Well, hold on one second: UNINTELLIGIBLE YELLING.” And they’ll fire back, “Excuse me?” And I’ll say, “Just kidding. I’m sure you get a bunch of angry people yelling with the phone too far into their mouth. Today, I have a small problem and I hope you can help…”
Again: I’m simply putting myself in the customer service reps shoes. And naturally, things go smoothly from then on. Even if they can’t help, they’ll try to help.
I know it seems so simple.
But really THAT’s the secret behind why I get treated better than most people as a customer:
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes… and treat them better. By being genuinely interested in the people you deal with. And by showing your appreciation for what they do. You’ll immediately stand out. And get treated better.
It’s something anyone can do.
So now, it’s your turn.
Think about your next interaction as a customer. What will you do differently to be a better customer?
Leave your answer in the comments.