At this time of year, there are numerous industries that rely heavily on a large increase in sales and two of the most important are hospitality and retail. Having worked for nearly 20 years in hospitality, one of the words I often heard throughout the industry was upselling, and training staff to focus on this. For me the focus on upselling puts the importance on increasing sales rather than on the customer and their experience. I was reminded of this recently when I experienced different exceptional customer service examples. One of these, when I picked up a takeaway from the newly opened Pizza on the Square in Belfast city centre. Carrying my laptop bag, and handbag, one of the waiters said he would like to carry the two pizzas to my office, a few minutes’ walk away as I had enough to carry. When in the office building, I explained the different businesses in the building and ways I thought the restaurant could promote themselves to increase sales. Now I know that’s not why the waiter did what he did, but because of the service I wanted to give any help I could to promote the restaurant.

I often see businesses focusing on increasing sales, getting new customers whilst at the same time there isn’t the same focus on growing sales through their current customers with a continuous focus on improving their experience. For me that’s like pouring water into a bucket, whilst at the same time having a hole in the bottom with water running out. When a sale is made the business should benefit from receiving three different things which will sustainably grow sales. Firstly, the money is paid, as we all know a sale isn’t made until the money is in the bank. The second payment is a referral from giving a great customer experience, which many businesses often miss this opportunity. And the third payment is feedback through word of mouth or online, which is so important impacting a businesses reputation and overall sales. Previously as a Director in hospitality and healthcare I worked with great teams implementing numerous exceptional customer experience programmes where we were able to sustainably increase sales through these systems and processes. So, I know first-hand it works.

I’m not saying it’s not important to focus on growing sales in a business, because this is one of the most critical factors to continuing a successful business. But evaluating the processes and focus you have in your business to increase sales, putting the customer at the heart of it, and continuously looking for ways to improve the experience you give them. I’m so lucky to have had great customers to work with this year in my business, who have been so supportive in helping me grow my business through referrals and new ways to continuously improve.

What examples do you have where exceptional customer experience has sustainably grown your sales?