The folks at Downton Abbey were a privileged few with a wing full of servants to cater to their every need. “We’ll take tea at 3 o’clock in the library…”. Too many people today have this same old-school approach to their customers. In reality, most people don’t just want to be served; we have moved beyond that – what we all crave as consumers is an adventure, an experience, a connection.

What is the common phrase you hear when you go into a retail environment? “May I help you?” Ugh. And what do you answer? “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Thus establishing the typical client / server relationship; as a business owner, you have just reestablished that your customer is the master and you are their servant.

We all have a personal attitude of some sort – our authentic self – and so for goodness sake, let it out more often! Be real – that is what customers crave – real connection. Yes it means getting away from the conventional “May I help you milady” but it’s so much more fun – and profitable too!

How about: “Hey – awesome shirt! Where did you get it?” or “We just got a fresh shipment of starter motors in – do you need one?” or “Good afternoon, can we tell you where to go?” or “Hey, I know that’s what you asked for but that’s not what you need.”

The Ritz Carleton Hotel, long pointed to as leaders in customer service, has a motto “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” Ok, so at least everybody is a lady or a gentleman,but the serving thing has to go. Remember, whether we are renting a hotel room, buying shoes or insurance, or even consulting services, we want an adventure, a connection, an experience – not to be merely ‘served’.

Observe how you and your team interact with customers. Is it a client-server relationship or a peer-to-peer experience?

Keep it real.