Love and Commerce

After flying back home yesterday, I decided to stop at the nail place on the way home since I would be traveling again next weekend.

I forgot about daylight savings time and was going by the (unchanged) clock in my car.  So by my calculation, I got to the shop 30 minutes before closing.

I was welcomed with the usual chorus of enthusiastic “Hi Dawn!” from all of the women who work there.  The other customers always look up and frown trying to figure out if they should know me or not.  It’s a rock star welcome for a mere pedestrian “regular.”

It was then I realized that 30 minutes wasn’t enough time for the considerable beautification attention I needed and I asked Mindy the manager if there was time and was told, “For you Dawn, yes.  You good customer.”

The women that work at the salon are all Vietnamese and for the most part English proves challenging beyond the most simple conversations.  It’s not unusual, if the conversation gets complicated, for the women to call over one of their sons or daughters (there are always one or two hanging around helping out) to help with translation.

I estimate that at every visit I hear “Hi Dawn!” about 14 times and “You good customer” about 5 times.  Both messages are always delivered with smiles and a lot of enthusiasm.  And, I am a good customer.  I visit regularly and tip generously.  But I like hearing it and I am happy that they appreciate me.

It occurred to me that these two short sentences speak volumes about how they view our relationship.  I appreciate them.  They appreciate me.  There is a commercial transaction – they provide a service and I pay for that service, but there is a certain mutual comfort and fondness that has grown the over the last 7-8 years.  I like being a good customer.

I think there is a lesson in this for those of us in B2B.  Communication with our customers may not be as frequent, however the transactions are much larger.  Do our customers get the rock star treatment when we cross paths?  Do we communicate to the good customers that they are good customers?

By the time my manicure and pedicure wrapped up, I was the only customer in the shop.  Since the footbath whirlpools weren’t operating, the radio was easily heard and Sly and the Family Stone’s ( ) “Family Affair” was playing as one of the daughters gave a toddler an improvised ride through the shop on a wheeled chair as the rest of the women cleaned up.  I knew I had kept them late, but there wasn’t a hint of impatience or resentment.  I was very glad to be a good customer.