Mitchell Stores is a unique type of business model, which is why they have been a regular Harvard Business School case study on excellence and pioneering retail. Also, Jack Mitchell has been cited as one of the top 10 retail visionaries of his time. The business has grown dramatically and has become a leading high-end clothing store famous for delivering exceptional customer service with a warm human touch. Everybody gets treated like family there. You walk in and they’ll have your favorite beverage waiting for you while you shop, and perhaps a genuine interest question about how your daughter’s soccer team is doing.

I was talking with Jack Mitchell, the chairman, about his unique approach to business. He calls it “hugging”. He doesn’t mean physical hugs, though he might give a bear hug to a good customer who likes getting one. He uses “hug” as a metaphor for personalizing relationships by doing small and often surprising deeds for customers.

“One thing I’ve learned is that everyone loves a hug,” Jack shared with me. “Greeting them with a simple but genuine smile. Knowing their name and nickname. Knowing their favorite color is green and that they like poker, which sports teams they follow. The customers are the center of the universe. These hugs don’t cost a cent, but they define a relationship. You don’t get that in many businesses. In the end, the goal is to exceed the customer’s expectation in each and every sale. Our own mantra at Mitchell Stores is, ‘We will make you feel great’!”

To see the books Jack Mitchell has written including his new hit, “Selling the hug your customer way” you can go to: Hug Your Customers