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The Flying Fish


When I speak to prospective clients I find that many are not quite sure what is meant by customer engagement and how they can incorporate this into their business.  A little history first. Customer Engagement is not Customer Service. This evolution has occurred primarily because of Social Media.  Wikipedia defines CE this way:


Customer engagement (CE) is the engagement of customers with one another, with a company or a brand. The initiative for engagement can be either consumer- or company-led and the medium of engagement can be on or offline.


Customer Engagement marries marketing and customer service together with the purpose of building the brand and creating loyal customers in a new and exciting way. When visiting Myrtle Beach recently, I had a fantastic experience at a local restaurant/market called, “The Flying Fish.” When my guest and I walked in, we were immediately greeted and asked if we wanted to sit outside or inside. Pretty normal so far. Next the server got our drinks and brought us out a complimentary fish dip with crackers. Nice and unexpected. The experience was great- overlooking the bay while dining outside on a warm summer evening. Everything was timed perfectly and the food was prepared as the menu described and came out the perfect temperature. 


The surprise came after dinner. After we paid our bill and began to walk out of the restaurant. We stopped to glance at the fresh fish in the case. After about 90 seconds an employee approached from behind and asked if we had any questions about the fish. We began a conversation and asked her some questions. She then asked what we had for dinner and we told her. She “engaged” with us for another 5 minutes – not selling us, just having a nice conversation. It was one of the very best experiences I have had in a restaurant in quite some time. I will always remember the experience and visit again anytime I am back in town. 


How about you? Can you remember the last time an employee actually engaged with you?


Leadership Lesson: Managers Set the Tone


I recently came across a fantastic article entitled, “Are You Mad at Me?” It shares the story of an editor who was faced with this question by one of his colleagues. The author goes on to explain the lesson learned – that his body language, tone of voice, and other nuances are watched by colleagues and staff members, and often times set the tone for the work environment.


A striking part of the article relates a story shared by Linda Hudson, President of BAE Systems, when she reflected on her realization that she did indeed set the tone within her company:


“I was the first female president of the General Dynamics Corporation, and I went out and bought my new fancy suits to wear to work and so on. And I’m at work on my very first day, and a lady at Nordstrom’s had showed me how to tie a scarf in a very unusual kind of way for my new suit. And I go to work and wear my suit, and I have my first day at work. And then I come back to work the next day, and I run into no fewer than a dozen women in the organization who have on scarves tied exactly like mine.

And that’s when I realized that life was never going to be the way it had been before, that people were watching everything I did. And it wasn’t just going to be about how I dressed. It was about my behavior, the example I set, the tone I set, the way I carried myself, how confident I was — all those kinds of things. It really was now about me and the context of setting the tone for the organization.”


This is a good lesson for managers at any level – you can change the work environment, for the better OR for worse, based on how you conduct yourself at work. Even in times of stress, staff look to their leaders for encouragement and cues on how to react. If you’re cool, calm, and collected, your staff will follow suit. If you present a positive attitude and demeanor during work, it will surely rub off on others.


I enjoyed the message in this article, and hope that it gives you pause as you go about your workday.



“Would You Like Fries With That?” Is Old School!



“Would you like fries with that?” is a phrase you’ve probably heard a million times over. Once upon a time, that was considered the easiest, most effective cross selling opportunity.  Times have changed – menu offerings have expanded, and customers have become more health and money conscious.  Cross selling and upselling opportunities have evolved, and training employees to handle this effectively can mean a world of difference in your bottom line.


Cross selling and upselling doesn’t come naturally to some people, but if done in the right manner, it can become a comfortable process for staff.  Below are some tips to use when training staff to consistently upsell and cross sell to customers.


1. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it: incorporating a standard cross sell to a cashier’s order taking process won’t work – it will sound mechanical instead of helpful. Telling an employee to always ask, “Would you like fries with that?” no matter what the order will turn people off. Offering additional items or larger sizes in an attempt to meet the customer’s needs will be way more effective in encouraging additional sales.


2.  “Value selling” – make the customer see the value in a cross sell item, while letting them know their business is appreciated. Panera Bread does a great job with this. When a customer orders a meal, the employee lets them know that because they did so, they are eligible to purchase any bakery item in the case for only $.99. It gets the customer thinking about dessert and looking at the bakery case.


3.  Say it with pictures – a picture says a thousand words. Make sure you have visually appealing signage that is prominent on the menu board or at the speaker at the drive thru of high profit items. People are drawn to visuals, and may be more likely to purchase these items, especially when the drive-thru employee starts off the conversation by asking if they’d like to try the promotional item. If value meals show a high profit margin, feature images of value meals prominently – psychologically, the customer will perceive this as the item to order, even if that was not what they originally intended to purchase.


4. Show the savings – one way to resurrect the “would you like fries with that” mantra is to explain why you’re suggesting that. If a customer orders a sandwich and beverage, the cashier can easily say, “if you’d like to add a side to that, it’s only an additional $.99 and you’ll save $1.25 if you purchase it as a meal.”


5. Be specific and enthusiastic – Instead of asking, “Would you like a drink with that?” offer specific beverages as suggestions. It could sound something like, “If you’d like to add a drink to your order, we have a great new Smoothie – you can choose Strawberry, Raspberry, or a Hawaiian blend.  I tried one and they are really good! They’re on special for only $1.99 with any order.”


6.   Psychological upsell – this is a unique opportunity that can work wonders with upselling. When customers are placing orders for items that have more than one size, but they don’t specify a size, training your employees to confidently suggest the larger size by saying, “That will be the eight piece order of mozzarella sticks, right?” while nodding their head in confirmation. This can encourage a larger purchase, even if the customer only intended on purchasing the four piece order.


7. Know the menu – Employees need to listen to the customer orders and make their suggestions based on that, not what is “easy” to suggest. You don’t want to suggest a triple chocolate brownie pie to someone who just ordered a low calorie salad. Instead, focus on other healthy, low calorie items as a suggestion.


8. Indecision can increase sales – if a customer is unsure of what to order, this is a great opportunity! Teach employees which items or combination of items yield the highest profit margin so they can suggest those to the undecided customer. If customers are unsure what to order, they will often times take the employee’s suggestions. They are usually pressed for time and don’t want to hold up the line by reading the entire menu board.


While the value of these additional sales is a known fact, seeing the actual impact can drive home the point even more of why this is so important. We’ve created a simple spreadsheet to illustrate the impact of cross selling and upselling.  You can click here to retrieve the spreadsheet.


Just enter a price point for a common cross sell item, the actual cost to the company, and then estimate the number of daily transactions per location. Enter the number of locations and the sheet will generate the revenue to be gained if this was done every single time. It is, of course, assuming that the customer accepts the suggestion every single time. While we know this is not realistic, you estimate that 30-60% of your customers will; it’s still an impressive number!


Consistency is key. No matter which of the methods above are used, an attempt to either upsell or cross sell should be done during each and every transaction. If you’re thinking that your employees do this all the time, just because you’ve trained them over and over on this matter, you may be surprised. With many of our mystery shopping clients, including those in this industry, they are often times very surprised to find that the question on their mystery shopping program pertaining to this issue is only answered “yes” at 50% of the time!  Train your staff, remind often, and reward when effective techniques are used.


The tips are rather subtle methods to use so that it doesn’t seem like a sales pitch. It will also give value to your customer’s visit – they will feel as though the employee wants them to have the best experience possible. This may not only lead to increased revenue, but customer retention and repeat business.