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According to Wikipedia the definition of customer service is:
"Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation."
Although great customer service is a focus of every business, lack of focus in the execution of these activities will deliver something far below what management had planned. Most think of customer service as a thing but in reality it is, as listed above, a Series of Activities. Let's see how you can improve your customer service training using this example.
Recently I had a bad customer service experience at a local restaurant chain when I was with my family.
Let me paint the picture: Saturday night and we wanted to try a new place to eat and Italian was the choice. Now I had been to this restaurant chain previously but not for a few years so I based my expectations on my previous experience.
The hostess was very pleasant and led us to our seats. The problem was the seats were way in the back of the restaurant and very dimly lit. My wife asked if we could move or turn the lights up but the hostess said she did not know. She never returned to tell us. As our waitress came up to greet us we asked if the lights could be turned up, she said she would go ask. She never came back either.
First point: Communication
No one is expecting everyone to be experts on all facets of your business but if there is a question or concern, ALL employees must be unified in helping to find a resolution. If your employees cannot answer a question that is fine but one must make sure that someone returns to explain a situation.
As we used my iPhone to read the menu, (and help the kids color with the crayons they gave them) a new waitress came up to get our orders. We told them our appetizers and the kids’ meals along with our drinks. A good 15 minutes went by and still no water, bread, etc. for the table. The first waitress returned but never addressed the lights, and asked if we were ready to order only for us to tell her our order was taken by another waitress. She said she would go find the order from the other waitress.
Second point: Teamwork
If you have your employees working as a team or you pass off a customer to another employee as they move through the sales process it is imperative that your team communicates with each other. If it were a pass through, then notes on the customer profile would help. If they are working as a front/back team there has to be a process of passing off information or else your team looks disorganized and the customer begins to lose faith that you will serve them properly.
Finally we got the food but the meal was mediocre at best. Some of it felt like it had been sitting and then reheated. The big mistake was that no one asked if anything was wrong when half full plates were cleared. As I asked for the check the second waitress said” no room for desert?” as if she was oblivious to the food not eaten. One would have expected a question about it. If you were confident your food is excellent, would it not seem odd that all plates were not finished?
Third point. Being Aware
Body language of customers, or tone of voice is very telling when dealing with your customers. Your team has to be aware of potential problems and bring them to the attention of management. Management has to create a culture where this is expected versus one where complaints are blamed on the messenger. I wonder how many problems could have been addressed while the customer was still on site versus letting them go and hope they were happy.
As we paid and left, all of the employees we passed smiled and thanked us as if everything was great. No one had any clue of what had happened or how we felt about our experience. So I posted a poor review and shame on me for not looking first but many others had the same experience.
Last point: Don’t Hide
Don’t assume all is well, get out and ask. If there is a problem fix it then, not after the fact. Today we are too connected to friends and others on line where a poor experience is posted online for all to see.
Customer service is an overused word but being aware of what you are trying to deliver and review each step for compliance by your team will help more positive reviews being broadcast instead of being checked off customers lists, never to return again.