Remember the old Earth, Wind and Fire song whose lyrics contained the memorable lines, “After the love is gone….what used to be right is wrong…can love that’s lost be found?”  I can’t get those lyrics out of my head as I continue to see the huge sales that surround us all at every turn. “70% percent off” seems to be the key driver of traffic to most retail stores today.  In these difficult economic times, huge sales are what brings customers in the door.  You are most often met with robotic greetings and responses, at best, or surly impatience at worse.  And we ignore or resign ourselves to “this is the way service is these days” or “it is what it is” because the cost savings somehow make the bad service acceptable.


Back to the lyrics – so what happens “after the sales are gone?”  Can love that’s lost be found?  What will drive customer loyalty (and love) during times when most people are being conservative and cost-conscious?  The “love” needs to be generated by great service – by an experience that will drive traffic even when the sales are finished.  Companies, businesses and stores that provide an experience that makes people glad they came by. An experience that actually makes people feel better during this challenging period.


From time to time, I want to highlight businesses that, in their own way, are delivering this kind of memorable service in hopes that the best practices can be adapted to your business – or at least generate a conversation about how you and your team can do better when it comes to delivering to your customers.


Recently, my daughter voiced an interest in taking dance classes – hip-hop in particular.  I found my may to a local Chicago dance establishment called the “Joel Hall Dance Center.”  I was familiar with the Company but had never been to their center.  From the minute we walked in the door we were greeted with friendly smiles, asked our names and invited to discuss our interests and get their advice about classes that would be a good fit for my daughter.  We both immediately felt embraced and engaged – so much so, that I decided to take the plunge and start taking ballet classes again – something that I had not done in over 25 years!  This took a certain amount of personal courage on my part but their welcoming spirit somehow bolstered my confidence.  Within a few visits the staff and teachers remembered my name, noticed when I was absent, shared discount options and always had a friendly greeting.  Everyone,  young and old, experienced and inexperienced seemed to share this same collegial atmosphere.


While my daughter’s interest has faded, I continue to return and am drawn back to the studio despite scheduling challenges, my lack of talent and the cost – because of the way I feel when I am there.  Welcomed and supported – a part of the group.  At the end of the day, it is about building community that draws us back to businesses – whether it is a dance center, restaurant, clothing store, etc.


How are you creating community – a great experience – for your customers, after the sales have gone?