By Shirleen Von Hoffmann Sales Coach for Sales Team Coaches Copyright 2012
The other night I was out with some friends for drinks and appetizers. The bartender was very condescending to me when I asked him to clarify his statement regarding the happy hour. I couldn’t hear him in the loud bar. I noticed his absolute rudeness but put it aside to have a good time with my friends. When taking our order a bit later, again he was impatient, impersonal and short. Then to top off the night, when one of the girls got her drink and told him it was different from what she ordered, he argued with her first, then snatched up the drink and walked away in a huff to make her another. When he returned to the table he set down the drink, said nothing, she said, “You know I am sorry but that drink just didn’t taste good and wasn’t what I ordered.” He never acknowledged her or her apology and walked away. She in turn became furious with his behavior and took her drink to the bar and told him to keep his drink and send over the Manager instead. At that point our “fun evening” ended abruptly. When we finally got the Manager on our way out, all the Manager could say, over and over, was I’m sorry…I’m sorry. No resolution and no feeling like our complaints either mattered nor would go any further for correction.
This is a sad story to me. There was so much done wrong in this story, where do I start?
If you are going to be in a job that involves customer service, then you better like customers and be ready to service them.
Take Ownership-Fix it Fast
If a customer complains, don’t take it personal, immediately think long term, how can I make this customer a happy customer for life. I quick apology from him and fix would have done the job. (I am sorry; let me get another drink for you right away.) Done, fixed! It only cost a small shot of booze and you would have four clients who would have returned in the future. But with his rude behavior, that restaurant lost four business people who would have returned with clients, family, friends…
It’s my pleasure
At the Ritz Carlton the customer services is excellent. The employees use the term, “It’s my pleasure” every time they give you something and you say, “Thank You”. It’s such an easy thing to say, “It’s my pleasure to please you” is what they are really saying. Its goes a long way and you never get tired of hearing it. The entire evening would have ended differently for us if when he brought her the second drink and she said, Thank You…all he needed to say was, “No Problem at all, I hope this one hits the spot. Try it and let’s make sure it tastes good.”
Managers should provide solutions
If you are a Manager and a customer is complaining to you don’t just blankly look at them and say I’m sorry over and over. Those are just words with no action and that just angers the client further. They are expecting you, as the Manager to offer some resolution to the complaint. In this case, you could tell there was not going to be any action to follow from this weak Manager. (Manager should have said, “I’m so sorry about your experience here tonight, please accept a free dinner or a free drink on us next time you return and make it up to you. Our service is normally excellent. I will have a talk with my employee to clarify our customer service policy.)
It’s so easy to please by owning the problem. “I am sorry, let me take charge and fix that”, goes a long way with an unhappy client. You put the fire out immediately before it turns into an inferno you can’t fix.
The four of us will never return to that restaurant again and we all have frequented there at least twenty times or more. I found out, that same restaurant is filing for bankruptcy and will probably close its doors. The owners probably never knew the hole in their sinking ship began with their customer service.