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Updated: Oct 7, 2021

If you’re happy with your online reviews, customer feedback, team motivation, sales and reputation, then maybe this post is not for you. But if you have a great business, yet know things can and should be even better, then this might be a timely reminder to put your people and training at the top of your agenda.

If your business was measured on customer engagement, moments of truth, reversing dissatisfaction and going above and beyond, how well would it do?

Every day we experience service provided by suppliers and providers of products and service. Transactional behaviour that presents the opportunity to do more. More to make the recipient feel valued and pleased that they chose to spend their time and money with that particular retailer or establishment.

Why is it then that so many fail? Fail to not only deliver more but often fail to deliver the very basics of good customer service? The fundamentals, like being warm, friendly and sincere, the kind of genuine greeting that tends to make the majority of customers smile and feel appreciated. Reassuring customer service that reminds us of arguably the most important things in life – thoughtfulness and kindness.

When good service is not delivered, is it because they are simply unaware of the experience they are providing? Are they so busy that they don’t care? Is their brand and industry reputation so prestigious that the same rules and fundamentals of service and hospitality don’t apply to them? Is it because good staff are hard to find? Is it Brexit, Covid or some something else?

It may well be a combination of all of the above. Yet I can’t help but think it’s down to training or a lack of. I know recruitment of talent is a challenge right now, it will always be, but it’s the ability of the employer to recognise potential and then provide the employee with the best interview, induction and training they’ve ever had. That’s an ambitious statement, but why settle for anything less?

As well as customer service there are so many more reasons to think about how your organisation goes about training your new and existing team on the fundamentals of good customer service and hospitality (assuming the latter is the former with bells on!)

To achieve customer excellence, it must be the number one focus of an organisation and its leadership team. Failure to adopt an uncompromising attitude to intelligent recruitment, comprehensive training and the delivery of an exceptional customer experience will surely result in the opposite – mediocracy, the enemy of great customer service and any successful business.

I visited several establishments recently and received varied experiences. Here’s a snapshot…

  • Top West End Hotel – stunning, prestigious and glamourous. We arrived only to be greeted by the manager with “Yes, how may I help you?”. Not warm, not friendly, just functional. It actually had the distinct flavour of I’m not sure you’re in the right place. Surely every hospitality professional knows that hospitality is not dependent on dress code or bank account. I thought I looked quite nice! Score 4/10

  • Fast Casual – we walked a mile to get the lunch we wanted, clean restaurant, super friendly staff, great exchange and conversation, knowledgeable, fast and friendly. Score 9/10

  • Artisan Coffee – well-known brand, smiles on arrival, then back to the customer, no conversation – great product, average speed. Score 6/10

  • High-end casual – robotic host greeted us with “Have you booked?” and not “Welcome! How are you?” We were shown to the table, menus dumped and the host returned to the door. The manager informs us that the breakfast menu stopped 15 minutes earlier, which was very frustrating as the only dish that was suitable for my guest due to allergens was the smashed avocado from the breakfast menu and despite being just 11.15am the manager refused to accommodate us, stating the breakfast chef had gone home and the chefs on duty do not know the breakfast menu. I’m not sure I believe that a Head or Sous chef does not know how to add smashed avocado on Sourdough. The manager then proceeded to tell me that I may not understand how restaurants work! Oh dear, this man is in serious need of training and he was in charge!! An exact case of ‘computer says no’. Score 0/10

  • Public Car Park – The parking attendant overheard me mention that my car felt like it was overheating. The kind man said, “When you return we can pop the hood and I’ll put some water in for you”. WOW! Someone on minimum wage provides the most exceptional customer service of the weekend. Score 10/10

Whether you’re buying a sandwich, a pint, a new car, dinner or catching an uber, there are always opportunities to give the customer more, be kind and be thoughtful. Food for thought or maybe training for thought?

To talk people, culture, training and world class customer service, get in touch. AK

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