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Tips to make your customers feel valued

Andrew Keogh speaking JCI

Last Saturday evening I had the pleasure of being the Keynote Speaker at the Junior Chamber Ireland ‘Friendly Business Awards’ for Dublin City.  This event is held annually in the Mansion House and recognises and awards businesses under the following headings:

Customer Care, Shop Layout and Design, Disability Access, Digital Experience

JCI events are always exciting, engaging and full of enthusiastic young people.  An organisation I would recommend young business people to join if they wish to enhance their careers.

My talk was entitled:  Are You Being Served?

The idea was to offer the audience some key thoughts about what makes a difference to customers when they visit somewhere intending to spend their hard earned money.


Here is a picture of a puppy – everybody is happy to see a puppy, because puppies are always happy to see you.  Puppies cannot smile, but what they do, to let you know they are happy to see you, is wag their tail.

Labrador puppy sitting in the grassWhen dealing with customers it might be inappropriate to wag your tail, but you certainly can smile.

Employers, if you want your staff to smile, it’s important that you smile too and create a working environment that’s relaxed and fun to work in.

Look up

When speaking to an audience it’s critical that you make eye contact.  The same applies when you are in the service industry.  Regularly I see people trying to attract the attention of staff members who fail to look up avoiding eye contact.

Keogh’s pub in Dukes Street is an example I often use when telling people about the importance of looking up.

Visualise the scene, it’s a rugby weekend, the pub is packed and so is the street outside.  You believe you will never get served, yet, as soon as you enter the bar a barman from on high (standing on a chair) shouts out to you, what do you want and by the time you struggle to the bar your drink awaits you!  That’s how professional well trained bar staff do things!

Remember Names

Dale Carnegie, in his book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ writes that “the sweetest and most important sound in any language is a person’s name”.

In my local village there are four shops in a row, which I regularly frequent.  The Butcher, the Baker, (no candle stick maker) the Wine Shop and finally the Vegetable Shop.  In the first three they all remember my name, in the vegetable shop they don’t, which grates with me just a bit.

Remember names and you will grow your business.

Work on Your Business

Earlier this year I was in Spain and down the road from where we were staying there was a row of about 10 restaurants.  On observation, after a couple of evenings we realised that the restaurant that was always busy was a restaurant called Giovanni’s.

Let me tell you about Giovanni’s management style.  Giovanni sat each evening at the counter with a glass of wine in front of him.  He didn’t wait on tables – in fact he didn’t appear to do anything, yet his restaurant was full and the ones located either side of his were not!

On further observation, I worked out Giovanni’s management style, he worked on his business not in his business.

He observed what needed to be done, who needed serving and pointed out to his staff what was required.  He mingled with his customers at their tables, whilst remembering their names, asked about their day and how their holiday was going?  Giovanni made his customers feel welcome and valued.

I’m not sure if he ever read Michael Gerber’s Book ‘The E-Myth’ where Gerber advises people “to work on their business not in their business” if they wish to be successful.  It’s a book I would highly recommend for anyone in business.

Here’s the top advice I gave to the service industry people in my audience at the JCI Dublin Friendly Business Awards:

Smile, look up and have eye contact,
remember names and
make sure that you make time to talk to your customers.
This equally applies to my clients when making presentations.

Speakers who influence their audiences do all of the above.


If you would like me to deliver this talk to your team, or discuss an upcoming event you would like me to speak at, or MC, please give me a call.