I walked into one of my favourite haunts and they were busy – OK, frantic. Waiting staff were running everywhere trying to get things done, serving people they didn’t know, trying to make a good impression.
I got my coffee – and nothing else. No hello, no eye contact, no sign of recognition. Just my usual coffee and cake. Almost dumped at my table. They were too busy dealing with the new people to go through the pleasantries with me. There was no need to smile. I’d become part of the furniture, another regular … This wasn’t the first time this has happened. But it was the last.
I finished my drink, quietly settled the bill, closed the door behind me, and said goodbye.
I’m going somewhere new, where people I don’t know yet will try to make a good impression.
It’s easy to offend your most loyal customers. Much easier than you think. And it will happen much more quickly than the new people you’re trying to form a good impression with. Because your loyal customers know you. They’ve dealt with you. They’ve experienced the warmth and the welcome, the interest and the engagement. They miss it when it’s gone.
Every day, you start again. Every impression counts. No-one will continue to pay once they realise they’ve been downgraded to décor.