Service with a Smile
What is “Customer Service” anyway? And who needs it? I mean honestly we talk about it all the time but it feels more like the exception than the norm so why bother?
I was wondering about this concept recently when I went to lunch at this “fish place” on our lovely island. You see my friend had told me that she discovered this place while I was on vacation. Being partners in a lime, I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out because I love seafood. The day finally came when I got an opportunity to sample the delights of the seafood menu at this place...mmmm…talk about good seafood pasta! MMM.
Somewhere in the back of my mind though, I was wondering if the young lady who served us was born with a screw face or if she acquired it with time, and was there a reason that her headphones were stuck in her ears while people were trying to talk to her. Hmmm, as I ate, thoroughly enjoying the food I must admit, those niggling thoughts kept returning along with others…like, was there a reason the other woman at the counter could not answer a question with words as opposed to a head nod, head shake, or some other form of sign language that I had not yet mastered?
The food was good so somehow I made it through the afternoon without seeking out management to comment on the poor service as I am sometimes prone to do (depending on the day…hey, times hard ok. I need good service with my money thank you, please and with a smile). Inevitably weekend came around again as it does 52 times a year and my liming partner and I decided hey let’s do that place again. The memory of the last week’s dismal service had not faded but the memory of the food had prevailed so I was ready to give them a try again, after all, everyone deserves a second chance. Unfortunately, I can sometimes be a vanilla person so despite a satisfactory set of choices, I went for the seafood pasta again. Boring! Yeah, I enjoyed it thanks.
What I did not enjoy however was the realization that these two ladies were not in fact having a ‘bad” day as I may have assumed the last time, but, this is “just the way they are” ...and OF COURSE curlers are a part of work attire by the way! Slowly as my liming partner and I chatted, we both came to the conclusion that probably we wouldn’t be returning very soon and we probably wouldn’t be spreading the word about the great food and reasonable prices either because despite all of that good stuff, the final taste is decidedly bitter.
I need good service with my money thank you,
please and with a smile
So back to my question. Who needs it? I do and so do you. What we fail to realise when we accept poor customer service is that a person, company, or service provider has in some way failed to honour your importance to them and their job. What is it? IT – Customer Service is about meeting and exceeding the expectations of the customer or client. It is a matter of providing the bare essentials – a greeting, a pleasant disposition, responsiveness – TO BEGIN WITH, and then if possible exceeding those basic expectations. People and business that understand the importance of good customer service realise two things, 1) when you provide good customer service your relationship with the customer is improved and the experience is pleasant for both parties and 2) they keep coming back. On the other hand, those who do not realise the importance of good customer service fail to realise just ONE thing – Bad news travels fast!
There are great examples of excellent customer service though and I’d like to share three of them with you. One of these stories comes from a company whose owner I profiled recently – Supreme Security. A couple years ago I had a “house party” (for my 18th birthday…you remember Groundhog Day dontcha? I’ve turned 18 a number of times over the last 10 years) I live in a village and so I was concerned about the security of the vehicles belonging to my invited guests since they would have had to park along the roads in the village so I requested the services of this company. There were three security guards on duty whose service was exemplary for a few reasons, they were professional (i.e. they refused any drinks or food for the duration of the event because they were there to do a job, they were on duty). The three individuals came to my house before the event to find out exactly what I needed, they walked through the village to make suggestions. Finally on the night of the event, they exceeded all expectations. They walked young ladies to their cars, assisted with directing traffic and parking and overall they were friendly and willing to assist in any way possible.
The second example happened years ago when I had just returned from my studies and moved out on my own. For some reason my television required a cable connection to function. The wire I had purchased from this tech store for some reason did not fulfill its purpose. After returning to the place, I was asked by the attendant if I needed them to come and check my television because the cable may have been the wrong size. They were determined to come check it out, fix the problem and ensure I was happy. There was no extra charge. Expectations Exceeded.
Finally, there is one service station on the island that has always gotten high marks for its service. Some years ago, I served as a “secret shopper” for a company from the Bahamas that was doing some tracking of Texaco stations. There were pages of information for which we were supposed to rate the stations a couple times a week. This particular station always came out on top for several reasons but the main reason in my opinion would have been CONSISTENTLY great service.
The list of customer service friendly places is indeed extensive however the list of places with poor customer service still needs to be whittled down quite a bit. Poor customer service - Who needs it?
*** Marcella Andre is talented writer, teacher, radio producer and community activist. If you wish to comment on the above column, feel free to use the facebook comments box below: