Personal Service: Marketing and Public Relations Secret Weapon

For all the chatter about branding, reaching out, building relationships and making connections, I wonder how much of it really cuts through and matters to the paying customer.

Service and the X Factor

If two businesses are selling the same thing for comparable prices, what’s the difference maker?  That little something extra: an unexpected gift or special touch, Lagniappe we from Louisiana call it.

  • I don’t do fast food that often, but Chick-Fil-A (and their evil Chicken Minis) has always been one of my favorites. Chick-Fil-A may not have a dollar value menu like other fast food chains; it’s the employees that make an impression. Everyone is polite, well spoken, friendly and professional about doing their jobs.Just because it’s fast food, does not mean they cannot go above and beyond. During their Labor Day promotion last year, the service was fast, and then some: our food was delivered to our table, no waiting.

When Service gets Personal

What will make someone drive an extra five miles out of their way in Atlanta traffic (See also: the 6th circle of Hell) to go to one business vs. another? Quality, service and price certainly play their parts, but it’s the X factor.

I shop two wine stores in the Smyrna Vinings area of Atlanta. Wine-RedWhite

  • Smyrna World of Beverage. Large, varied selection with competitive pricing and solid service from owner Jay Wang.
    He makes great recommendations for affordable, second-label wines and new varietals.  More than that, Jay really likes and knows wine, and makes an effort to remember my face and my tastes when I visit.It’s a great shop just up the street, next to my local Publix and so convenient.
  • The Wine Cellars. Limited but impressive niche selection, focusing on quality wines at reasonable prices, and outstanding personal service. Owner Renee Rowe offers free wine tastings some days to give her customers a chance to try before they buy.Going a step further, Renee is developing relationships beyond the store. The other day she emailed me to let me know a couple of my favorite labels were back in stock. A simple example of personal service that will get me in my car, making more trips to see her…and spending more money in her store.

For small businesses in a harsh reality of price squeezes from big chains and competition from the Internet, the little things–the personal touch with a quick, easy and free email–make the biggest difference.

What’s your favorite example of personal service that keeps you going back for more?

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