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What Your Business Can Learn from Cheers

I vaguely remember hearing the theme song from the 1980s sitcom, "Cheers," as a kid when I would visit my grandparents' house during the summer. It was always on right before the 10 p.m. news, and even to this day, when I hear the opening score, I see my grandmother's orange and brown paisley couch and smell the scent of homemade tortillas (a constant and wonderful staple in my grandmother's kitchen!).

Now, thanks to Netflix, I get to enjoy "Cheers" as an adult, and I can finally understand and appreciate the humor. As an added bonus, my one-year-old LOVES the theme song and goes full throttle into her signature dance as soon as she hears it!

Now that I'm old enough to understand the wit of the show, I have also found that there are countless lessons that businesses can learn from the cast of "Cheers."

Learn Your Customers' Names

One of my favorite things about every episode is that when Norm Peterson, the accountant/painter, walked into the bar, each day he was greeted by a boisterous "NORM!!" in unison by every patron and employee in the building. It's right there in the opening line of the theme song, "sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name..." This may be something you've already put into practice, but if it isn't, take note from the gang of "Cheers" and make your customers feel welcome every time they walk into your business by enthusiastically greeting them by name.

Make Your Customers Feel At Home

Along the same lines as learning your customers' names, making your business feel like a "home" to your customers is something that can be learned from the witty sitcom. Sam and his staff of bartenders made everyone who walked into the bar feel like Cheers was their bar. Regardless of how educated—or not, wealthy—or not, blue collar, white collar, man, woman, young or old, everyone was welcomed with open arms, a seat at the bar, and a cold beverage. When your customers interact with your business, make them feel like they're your old friend and you're thrilled to have them back home.

Listen to Your Customers

No matter how busy the bar was at any given moment, or what they had going on in their own lives, you could always count on the staff to lend an open ear to their most loyal patrons. Norm always had the opportunity to share hilarious anecdotes about his wife; Cliff never shied away from divulging the latest gossip from the U.S. Postal Service circuit, and no matter how far over the regulars' heads they may go, Frasier always felt comfortable telling stories and jokes laced with his dry humor.

Your business should provide the same warm and welcoming atmosphere so that your customers feel comfortable telling you about their life-changing events. Not only is creating a friendly, family-like environment great for customer relations and customer service, but it also opens up the door to sales opportunities. When your customers casually inform you that they've gotten married, had a new baby, retired, etc., it gives your sales team the opportunity to offer them products and services to meet the needs of their changing lives.

Take Pride in Your Community

Carla Tortelli, the fiery, sarcastic head waitress at Cheers, was nothing short of a Boston super fan. Whether the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, or Bruins, you knew she was going to be rooting for her team—even if that meant feigning illness to get off of work early to catch her favorite Bean Town team in action. Your customers probably feel the same way about their community. They, no doubt, love the local high school football team, support the Girl Scouts during cookie season, look forward to the annual city festival, etc.

You can show your customers that your business supports the community you live and work in, too. Purchase an ad in the local theater program, sponsor the high school basketball team's scoreboard, local 5K, or charity golf tournament—there are countless ways that you can prove that you have the same community pride that your customers have, and they will love you even more for it.

After 11 seasons, 276 episodes, six Golden Globes, 28 Emmys, and being voted one of the greatest comedy shows of all time by GQ Magazine, "Cheers" not only made us laugh and adore its characters (I still get choked up when I think about Coach passing away), but it also gave us great lessons that we can apply to running a successful and welcoming organization.

For additional information, check out this post: The 6 Steps to Retaining Your Customers for Life

This post was originally featured on SWBC's LenderHub blog. Revised 12/28/15.

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Victoria Penn

Victoria Penn is the AVP of Marketing for SWBC. She manages a team of marketers that develop traditional and digital marketing strategies. She also leads the Content Marketing Strategy for SWBC.

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