By your host, J. Jeff Kober
There’s something powerful about learning the names of your customers, and more importantly, getting to know them. This came to my attention when one day when we had George Miliotes talk to one of our business groups about best practices in world-class companies. George, along with chef Cliff Pleau, co-founded Disney’s California Grill, and George was its first general manager from 1994 up until 2002, when he and Cliff left to create Seasons 52 for Darden Restaurants. He has helped create two incredibly popular restaurant experiences–something few people get to do. So George knows what it takes to make a restaurant succeed. George talked one day about the fact that in the restaurants he managed, he easily knew the names of some 1000 of his top customers. He also knew the names of all of his employees. I can’t help thinking that knowing the names of your guests makes a difference in the success of your organization.
We’re big these days around the empirical data that goes behind knowing your customers. But there’s nothing that substitutes knowing them up close and personal. Do you know their name? Do you know something about them? Some businesses have to of course, deal with scale. Every day, Disney parks has tens of thousands coming through. But making them feel like they are known is an experience that can’t be replaced.
And by the way, when you take the time to know them, they will know and remember you. And the foundation of customer loyalty is that they know you, and remember you. Here’s a unique twist on that idea. From a friend and colleague, David Zanolla, comes a story of someone everyone knows–Peter Pan:
“While we were meeting with Peter Pan at the end of a tour given at The Magic Kingdom, he told the boys they should come and visit him when he was taking pictures in Fantasyland later that afternoon. Well, I had forgotten about it, but the boys hadn’t when we came upon Peter doing a meet ‘n’ greet later later in the day. We got to the front of the line, he remembered both boys’ names and asked if they had ended up going on the rides they said they would. Then to top it all off, he asked if we had time to wait around. When he was done meeting other guests, he took the boys by the hand and skipped through Fantasyland with them on the way to try and pull out the sword in the stone. The looks on the other peoples’ faces were priceless as Peter Pan was playing with our two boys in the middle of the Magic Kingdom.”
Then, about two years later, we’re watching the 3:00 parade and they started yelling, “Peter Pan! Peter Pan!” They had seen him many times after our previous experience, but they knew there was something different about him this time. Sure enough, it was their friend Peter Pan. It blew me away that, two years later, they remembered his face that clearly.”
Know their name. To know their name is a simple, no-cost opportunity. Just know their name–and use it! And when it comes to employees, know their name as well. It’s a great foundation for building customers that last a lifetime.