This article is 6 years old. As we are in a rapidly-changing industry, the information contained in this article may no longer be relevant. Please keep this in mind while reading.

The holiday season is in full swing here in San Francisco.  The tree is up in Union Square; the cable cars are decorated with lights, garlands and ornaments; and practically every building has some type of holiday décor.  And, like every year, people everywhere seem to be more friendly, and, well, nicer.  It’s as if the city and the people in it want to put their best foot forward.

How do you personally put your best foot forward with your customers?

Last year, right about this time, I started using a new drycleaner.  I had moved to a new neighborhood and there were 3 or 4 dry cleaners within a couple blocks.  I randomly chose one and walked in.  I was greeted warmly, and when I explained that I was new to the neighborhood, the woman behind the counter gave me a beautifully wrapped bottle of wine and welcomed me to the neighborhood.  Needless to say, I was happy I stopped in!  But – and here’s the really impressive thing – my dry cleaner has maintained that “best foot forward” mentality with me for an entire year.  Every time I go there, I am greeted warmly and feel welcomed and valued as a customer.  They ask me how I am doing and remember things about me.  My clothes are ready on time and beautifully presented to me.  They’ve made an impression on me, and I wouldn’t consider going anywhere else.  In fact, I now bring them my tailoring needs and have recommended them to others.

It’s easy to make a new customer feel welcome and appreciated.  A handwritten thank you card or gift sets a positive tone.  However, it’s much harder to maintain that feeling with customers over a longer period of time and requires work on your part.  Organizations that master this definitely have an advantage over their competition!  Give it a try and see the results you’ll get.