Would you ignore your friend if they were two feet in front of you?
My best friend and I decided to patronise a pub recently taken over by new tenants. We had arrived early in the evening and as we were the only customers we decided to have a pre-dinner drink in the bar. During this time we asked to see the function room and made small talk with a team member about the décor. Soon afterwards the chef and the tenant walked in to begin their shift but even though we were the only customers in the pub, just a few feet away, neither acknowledged us with a smile nor said good evening.
It seemed very odd to us that our presence wasn't even acknowledged considering we were the only customers trying out a brand new business. The Elephant in the room felt rather snubbed. However, had we have been friends of theirs, I wonder, would they have ignored us then? No, of course not, because it would be incredibly rude! If we had been friends or acquaintances they would have come over and greeted us with a warm smile, thanked us for coming, showed us round the pub, told us about their New Year’s Eve party and their exciting plans for the future of the pub. We would have felt welcomed and appreciated that we had made an effort to support their new venture and they would have found out that my friend was considering the pub to host her birthday meal for 20 guests in second week of January.
In total we were one of three tables that night and although the food was excellent we did not feel like our custom was valued and my friend booked her birthday meal elsewhere. Earlier in the evening we were told by the team member that the tenant's strongest skill was marketing! Well, guess what? Talking to your customers IS marketing! My view is that customers who feel like they are treated as friends of the business will become loyal advocates. Ignore them and they will go elsewhere.