In a recent blog, we discussed the key difference between Chick-fil-a and Popeye’s that could win Chick-fil-a the chicken sandwich war, and that’s customer service. Although Chick-fil-a has slipped up a time or two–no one’s perfect you know–they are well-known for their superior customer service skills. At any given location during lunchtime, you’ll find the drive-thru line wrapped around the parking lot but with a wait time shorter than when you’re the only customer in the drive-thru at McDonald’s or yes, Popeyes.
Though some argue that great food trumps slow or poor customer service, most would agree it’s more of a package deal. Sure, you might be willing to wait longer than usual for a favorite food, and you may even tolerate rude employees occasionally, but only when you have the time and patience to deal with it. If you’re on a time-crunch or simply want the joys of being greeted by smiling employees, you’re gonna skip your favorite meal and settle for something you like a little less.
Doesn’t that sound horrible? As a “have cake and eat it, too” kind of girl, I’d prefer my favorite sandwich with a side of excellent customer care. I’d be willing to bet you are, too.
So where does great customer service begin? Well, if you’re the business owner, it begins with you. Read that again. Great customer service begins with the business owner.
“But I’ve trained my employees on customer service.” What does that even mean? Did they watch a training video, read a manual, learn a script? If you answered yes, then you haven’t carried your training to completion. Why?
Because much like our children, employees learn far more about how to carry out their job successfully from watching their leaders. Check out our suggestions to help ensure you’re providing the leadership your employees need to pull off great customer service.
Treat your employees like you want your customers and yourself to be treated. If you don’t care about your employees, they won’t care about your business. If you treat them poorly, they’ll eventually leave or not care much about their job performance.
Promote a healthy environment for your employees. Don’t let them skip breaks and meals and don’t overwork your employees, including management. Even your workaholics will burn out if they are overworked. Just ask these Popeye’s employees who threw in the towel after the Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 commenced in August.
Train your employees in policy and procedure, but also train them to tune into their customers. Don’t let things like upselling and strictly following procedure get in the way of customer service. Teach your employees to pay attention to their customers and their conversations. When I worked in restaurants as a server I was encouraged to upsell menu items at every table. But I didn’t always do that. Why? Because sometimes my tables were single moms who had barely scraped enough cash together to take their child out for their birthday. I knew this because I listened to the customer when they spoke to me or even to their fellow guests. It seemed silly and downright rude to ask a customer in that situation if they want to spend money they probably don’t have on an appetizer they really didn’t need. Why bring that awkwardness to the table when it’s obviously unnecessary? I also worked in a grocery store that offered no public bathroom. Yet each day I led at least a handful of moms and young children to the employee bathroom in the back of the building because not providing a service like a public restroom was the opposite of customer service. After all, when you gotta go, you gotta go!
Hire people-oriented employees. You want your employees to love people and to be able to feel compassion toward customers no matter what business you are in. That’s what will keep a smile on your employee’s faces in the midst of dealing with a difficult customer and that’s what will bring repeat clients or customers. Not all people are made to work with the public, and that’s okay. Just don’t hire those people to work with customers.
Exceptional customer service will cost in the beginning but pay off in the end. While it doesn’t cost anything to be nice, it can cost to go beyond “good” service with free returns like Zappos or never-expiring-coupons like Bed, Bath, and Beyond. These extras build lifelong loyalty among customers, the holy grail of customer service. Those loyal customers will defend your company when you have the inevitable bad day.
Are you concerned about your business’s customer service reputation? Are you ready to back great marketing strategies with even greater customer care? Momentum Consulting can help! We’ll guide you through improving customer service in your company and if your online reputation has been tarnished by poor reviews, we’ll help you get that rep back on track. Start with us today by requesting your free 30-minute consultation.