Customer service is key and can either benefit your business or cause it significant problems. Everyone in your business is responsible to getting it right.
Recently I went out for a meal with my Wife. The first restaurant we chose to dine in was quiet, as expected for a Thursday night. We had not been there for quite some time due to bad service, I had previously been presented with a fish dish which I didn’t think was cooked sufficiently. The waitress took it off me without a word and never tried to replace it. That was the starter and just the start.
But that aside we decided it had been a number of months and we would give it another try as it had been refurbished. The service was better, politely we were shown to a table in the restaurant, but when presented with a menu, we were only given the “Pub Grub” menu. So we declined, paid for the one drink and left.
The next restaurant was a ten minute drive away. We arrived at ten to eight that evening. I approached the bar, where a young girl was serving and I asked if they were serving food. She looked at the clock, huffed, and with it declared that the kitchen was shutting in ten minutes. If we wanted anything then we were to order it all now. Not too impressed, I asked for a menu and she pointed to them at the other side of the bar, saying “They’re over there” and with it I fetched one myself. We didn’t look at it long as we decided the service at the start was bad enough, I wasn’t going to waste £100 on a meal and drinks to be upset by poor service. So we left.
Wondering where to go next, we made a conscious decision to go to the one place we knew that no matter what time it was, how busy or not they were, we would have good food, great service and not be rushed. We had been there so many times before, but ultimately we continued to go back because the service was great and we could relax.
I have been involved in several businesses and I take customer service as a very important topic, one which you should never underestimate. Getting the service right for your business is absolutely vital. With the power of social media now, it doesn’t take long for bad service to spread and it will take ten times longer to build back good service.
My top tips on getting customer service right
- Have a three way conversation and include the customer
By involving the customer, they immediately begin to feel at ease and are open to discussion and will start to accept your advice more easily. When they feel comfortable, they will want to come back and ultimately spread the word, doing your marketing for you.
- Don’t rush nor dally
Rushing a customer to make a decision because you are closing or need to go for lunch will generally put the customer off. But similarly waiting for the customer to make the first move will look like you are not interested and so they will have no loyalty to you.
- Spending too much time with a customer can damage you margin
I am a victim of this too, I had a business where customer service was everything. That was the way I was going to compete against the internet, offer great customer service. But what happened was, my staff spent so long making sure that the customer bought the perfect product, that when I calculated the cost I was making only a few pounds profit per hour. We had a great reputation for service, but ultimately we had very little profit.
- Having a rigid line with customer service is damaging
Every customer is different, whether that be in an individual, a business or individuals within a business. You will need to handle the customer service slightly different to suit the customer, it’s not a one model suits all.
- It doesn’t hurt to smile
Especially when we are busy, under pressure and we have a queue. The problems you are having are not the customers. I go to a local bakery for lunch sometimes, there are four women that work in there, two of them are chatty and pleasant. When I think of them they are always smiling, that’s the lasting impression I have. But the other two women, I feel like I have annoyed them when I ask for one of the bakery’s products. I feel a reluctance to go into the shop when I see these two women in, despite the quality of their products.
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