(ThyBlackMan.com) I eat out often. If I say so myself, I’m a pretty good tipper. I tip well because I usually get pretty good service. I usually get pretty good service because I try to be as nice and engaging as possible with the person who’s taking my order and bringing me my food.
I believe that restaurants probably have the best customer service of any industry. It might be because, at least in the United States, the wait staff gets paid less than minimum wage, and to make sure they get paid the hourly wage they’re hoping for they work harder than everyone else so that they can get tips.
They’ve probably learned over time that being nice to the customers result in bigger tips. They’ve also probably been schooled by the restaurant managers or owners in how to take care of their clientele because leadership knows that if customer service isn’t up to snuff then no matter how good the food is those patrons won’t be coming back.
I like to think of this as a three-way street. I don’t even know if there is such a thing, but I think that looking at it this way can make a great impact on how we see customer service organizationally.
The first street is the person or people who are either the first contacts or those directly responsible for how the customer is treated. This goes beyond restaurants. The first person a customer talks to on the phone is the beginning of the customer servi
The second street is leadership. Leadership is very important in the customer service process because leadership sets the tone for how the organization treats their customers. It’s up to leadership to define who their customers are, which means they need to determine whether they’re going to treat their employees as customers along with everybody else. The companies who include the best customer service processes and include their employees usually stand out above other companies in their industry.
The third street is the customer; that one’s the wild card. When customers come to partake of our services or products, they will either be in a good mood or a bad mood. This puts those on first and second streets at a disadvantage. It would be nice if all consumers recognized that you teach people how to treat you by treating people better, but it’s not always the reality we deal with.
If you have customers who are in bad moods, there are usually two things can help them feel better and make everything pleasant across the board. The first thing is to be professional. It helps if you can be professional and friendly, but every once in a while friendly just isn’t an option at the moment. The second thing is to take care of the customers issue. That’s where being a true professional comes into play.
I believe that an overwhelmingly number of all customer complaints are solved and people leave feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, sometimes a consumer’s complaint can’t be solved to their satisfaction for whatever reason because business is business and life is just like that.
When that happens, it’s more important for customer service personnel to be professional rather than friendly because as we all know when we’re being told something that we may not like we get even more upset when the person giving us this news seems to be inordinately cheerful.
It’s at times like this where leadership’s role in customer service is most important. Well trained staff should be given a green light to try to help customers by being able to offer them something when things go wrong and there is no true solution.
Since businesses are diverse I can’t make suggestions on what types of things should be offered, whether it’s discounts, free services or products, but allowing the first street customer service employees latitude to make decisions they’ve been trained to know that can help consumers feel better is probably one of the best gifts that leadership can do for them.
This doesn’t negate those times when leadership needs to step in to take care of the problem. Sometimes they might need to be the only authority who can pull it off, especially if there’s a large monetary component.
No matter the business (well, maybe not independent businesses like mine), there’s always a convergence of these three streets. It would be nice if all three streets led the way out of a situation, but for the most part it’s going to be up to the first and second street to get the job done.
Staff Writer; Mitch Mitchell
Official website; http://www.ttmitchellconsulting.com