Surely, Customer Service is Common Sense?

By Bob Morrell on August 12, 2019

One of the disadvantages of being a trainer and speaker is that you are sometimes forced to eat, in restaurants, alone. On a recent trip to Newcastle I went to one of my favourite chains and asked for a table. If you were running a restaurant what would you do with a lone diner? What you should do is put him somewhere out of the way, serve him quickly and be polite. In this instance I was put on a table in the centre of the place, surrounded by groups celebrating things. This is embarrassing for them, and me. I become the pariah. The one who looks like he’s been stood up! The lone ranger. The mood hoover.

Then I waited YEARS for my main course. The excuse was a big party had come in just before me…. this is simply not good enough. I got a free glass of wine and a half priced main course. That’s not the point – it shouldn’t have had to come to that – they should have just managed my expectations. It’s not that hard. Oh yes, then they happily cleaned the tables around me, squirting that foul-smelling stuff on it whilst I was eating….

Now how does this translate to other businesses? When we’re dealing with customers in the first instance, how do we accommodate them? How do we assess the kind of thing they’re looking for? If our service lacks, do we take responsibility for that or do we blame others? Or do we blame the system? Whilst the customer is weighing up their options would you start hoovering your shop or your office?  These things sound so simple, yet so many get it badly wrong.

If you’ve spent a great deal of time holding on the phone, or waiting for an email, why haven’t you communicated that this is unacceptable? If you have a legitimate complaint, why are people passing the buck or claiming it’s not their area? If something has happened that requires compensation why aren’t people empowered to negotiate that, at the time of the complaint?

There are brands right now, on a daily basis, who keep people waiting, embarrass their customers, deliver poor service, fail to manage expectations, have to compensate, and sometimes treat the customer as an inconvenience. There are many brands who are now losing customers, and cannot work out where they have gone wrong. They may not have gone wrong; they simply haven’t got enough things right!

We’ve been studying the markets in the UK in some more detail recently, and these customer service principles have the power to build a business, or kill it. The future is in building service models that are enhanced with nothing but common sense, delivered by empowered people.