by Teresa Allen, Owner of Common Sense Solutions, Customer Service Speaker
I recently took a friend to a restaurant known for having great burgers. When our lunch was delivered to the table, I cut into my burger and it was well done. In my taste spectrum a well done burger is not done well! I realized that I had not told the server that I preferred medium rare but also was then conscious of the fact that our server had never asked us how we wanted our burgers prepared.
I called the server over to the table and told him I was sorry that I had not told him of my preference but pointed out that he had failed to ask. His response was astonishing to me. In a very nice reply he informed me that management had told the servers not to ask and to prepare all burgers medium well. When I asked why he said that management thought this would speed up the orders and decrease confusion in the kitchen.
Now I have to admit, it is at times like this that I feel most needed as a customer service speaker and consultant! What in heavens name was management thinking implementing a policy sure to displease half of their customers?! Unfortunately this restaurant is not alone. They may be the only restaurant in history to tell the servers not to ask customers how they want their burgers cooked, but they are not the first company or industry to fail to offer customization of service.
What about the company that decides to only offer only telephone support when customers want to be able to access support on their smart phone. Or how about the bank that requires customers to come in to deposit checks instead of taking a picture of the image? The list could go on and on…
How we inform customers of the choices available to them is also critical. Many of us have seen a graphic on a menu in a restaurant that identifies cooking temperatures and how to order based on preferences such as the one shown here. While the customer who is an audio learner may do well listening to verbal offerings, customers who are visual learners benefit from anything we can put in front of their eyes. Once again, customization of the service experience is key to customer satisfaction.
Customer service is not just cross selling fries with the burger. It is indeed asking which burger you prefer (the Mushroom Swiss or the All American) and then asking how you would like it prepared.
Don’t let ease of process ever overrule a customized service experience in your business. Today’s consumers want service their way in the channel of their choice! What are the choices available to your consumers and how are they presented? Take a moment today to examine the lesson from this customer service close encounter and remember… your next common sense customer service lesson may be as close as the restaurant down the street!
Teresa Allen is author of Common Sense Service: Close Encounters on the Front Lines and is often asked to speak at customer service meetings and conventions to share her expertise. To contact customer service speaker Teresa Allen, call or email at tallen@AllenSpeaks.com or call 800-797-1580. See more valuable customer service tips at http://www.AllenSpeaks.com. This article may be reprinted if you include this contact information.