Great service is just plain good business, and the great news is that it doesn't have to cost the earth to implement a customer enchantment culture.
Great customer service happens one moment at a time, and it is when these moments build one on the other, that you develop a quality customer service platform, and more than that, begin to see dollars starting to flow.
The real question for me is: "If delighting customers is about little things, done consistently, one customer at a time, why is the service in some Australian food & beverage outlets lacking?"
Is there a culture emerging where customers are seen as a commodity - that is, there are more where the last one came from? Might work at the Easter Show, or sports events where customer choice is limited, but in CBDs and shopping centres, definitely not.
I am going out on a limb here, I don't believe my expectations of what is quality service is unrealistic. I base this on recent exposure to food operators who are in reasonable locations, with reasonable foot traffic, but failing to meet rent and other commitments, or who are scraping by working for minimum wage because there is nothing left after everyone else gets paid.
Experience and observations suggest that there is a bit of the commodity thinking going on. Rather than launch into what's missing, I'd rather focus on simple steps that can be put in place in any food business, irrespective of size, location or market positioning.
- Make sure windows are set & attractive with food offer well before peak trading periods, so staff can focus on serving customers rather than fussing with the window. Make sure the product is labeled & priced correctly so that the customer has information to make quick decisions. Value the customer's time.
- Teach staff to be aware of customers - if working preparing packaging or other "busyness" behind the counter, develop the ability to notice customers, stop the busyness - it is not as important as serving a customer.
- Lead from the front - show staff how you want customers to be treated in your business
- Smile and look the customer in the eye
- Clear tables quickly. The message dirty uncleared table sends is not one that says we value you and your business
- Make sure staff know the product and can talk positively about it
- Clean uniforms, neat presentation of all staff says I care about myself and I am serious about giving you a quality experience
- Fix little details in your shop like wobbly tables
- Offer a small unexpected surprise from time to time - delight the customer
- If you get it wrong, apologise, don't argue. Accept responsibility and make sure staff are empowered to solve customer problems.
My challenge to you is to think about what other little moments of truth you can introduce into your business that will delight your customers and bring them back to your door time and again.