Customers or Guests?

Customers or Guests?

by Danny Summers

In sending all Group Centers Owners a reminder for the 2022 Group Mystery Shopper Program this past week, I started thinking about the typical Mystery Shopper and all of your customers.

Every person that steps through your door (or gate) has made the conscious decision to do so. You may have invited them to come but in the end, they made a choice. Just like planning a special dinner or party at home and sending out invitations, those who decide to accept your invitation and attend your dinner... are your guests. Should we view everyone who decides to accept your invitation to your Garden Center as a guest or are they just a customer? Let's explore the definitions of these two common terms... and see which one you think is best:

Customer  [kuhs-tuh-mer] noun
1. a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.
2. a person one has to deal with: a tough customer; a cool customer.

Guest  [gest] noun
1. a person who spends some time at another person's home in some social activity, as a visit, dinner, or party.
2. a person who receives the hospitality of a club, a city, or the like.
3. a person who patronizes a hotel, restaurant, etc., for the lodging, food, or entertainment it provides.

Now let's explore a few quotes supporting customers being guests:

Tom Peters - "The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people."

Jimmy Stewart - "Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners."

Walt Disney - “Be Our Guest”

This short statement is at the core of The Walt Disney Company. Treating visitors as Guests has been at the heart of their “Cast” (staff) training since the beginning. We heard about this when Simon T. Bailey shared his experience of first being a Disney Cast Member a few years ago at The Fall Event. The term is so important, they named a restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland "Be Our Guest", and The Disney Institute has even published a book by the same name. And if that doesn’t give enough support of this idea, one of the featured songs underscores it... from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is ‘Be Our Guest.’ The lyrics to this much-loved tune begins with "Be our guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the test!”

Eric Schiffer - “When leaders reframe customers into guests, and results into experiences, profits escalate.”

Joshua Liebman - "A moment of truth is defined by each and every interaction that a guest has with your staff throughout the course of their visit. Every moment of truth is an opportunity to exceed your guests’ expectations."

John Kennedy further supports this idea in this ReFresh video "Customer Service vs. Customer Experience (to watch John's message below):

John says, "It’s been said that “Customer Service” is an action. “Customer Experience” is more of a feeling. Studies show people buy on feeling. How do your customers feel when they experience your retail garden center? Does your team react to their needs or do they anticipate their needs? Great question to ask your team. And if we are delivering a consistent customer experience, you will find your customer loyalty will be enhanced."

And finally another supportive quote by...

S. Truett Cathy - “If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; If you wish to enrich years, plant trees; If you wish to enrich Eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.”

Maybe it's time to consider a shift in your Center's culture. What's at the core of your team training? Should it contain some basic ideas of how you look at every Guest?

If you consider it important to have long-term relationships with those who buy your plants, products and services, then maybe they deserve to be considered Guests... not just customers. Each should be considered special by the entire Team. Each Team Member (Your Cast Member) should know your plan for each Guest to have an experience in your Center and how important each relationship is developed and supported.

The Spring Season is just around the corner and your GUESTS will be coming!

What do you think? Carry on this conversation (or challenge) on GroupEs this week. And thanks for sharing!

Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others such as Tropicals? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.
Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Steve Bailey, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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