C stands for Customers; C stands for Care

Service Excellence, the lack of it – Avoiding your upset customers – the sure way to …

Do you need to attend a two-day classroom customer service training to learn how to cope and manage a frustrated customer who starts yelling at you? Maybe … maybe not. The reason for my non-committal response is this – On the one hand, you attend a two-day class to realise and learn the technicalities of relating to customers. On the other hand, if you don’t put into practice the concepts, the tips and tricks that you learn, then it’s down the drain with all those concepts! At the heart of ‘customer service excellence‘ is the attitude in each of us. Just ask yourself, why do you get upset when service is not up to your expectation? How do you want to be treated if you are angry?

Just the other day, I was at this restaurant in Bukit Panjang (a venue located in the north-west of Singapore) for dinner with my family. A waitress approached and atttended to us. Not to bad, she was with smile, waited on us to check the menu, did our request and then repeated it back to us. We were amongst the first of the last few lots who arrived and were waiting to be served our food. And then, the disappointment started…

First, we had to wait for quite a while for the food to arrive. Then, a couple next to our table, who arrived and ordered their food later, actually got to have theirs before us. We called the waitress to check. Instead of being apologetic over the matter, she simply waved us off with the excuse that the restaurant was packed and so, we had to wait in the queue! When requested to check to affirm our order, well, she came back and told us that it was in the process. After a ten-minute wait, we requested a second check. This time, the waitress did not even come back to us.

Yes, we sounded impatient – we were famished – my wife, and my two kids…but that did not give her the license to avoid her; that did not offer her the rights to ignore us. At worse, she probably thought we were an impatient lot who deserved to wait! Now, let me reveal two more lapses in service here – Food finally arrived at our table. But do you know how it was served? The waitress came, did not look at us in the eye, merely put the dish on the table, then pushed it towards us as if we were beggars deserving that treatment (in fact, we should not even treat a beggar in that manner!).When we were done with our dinner, my wife decided to look for the restaurant manager to file a complaint. Instead of trying to understand why we were looking for the manager, the cashier simply said he wasn’t available. She did not even try to find out and assist further!

I am in the service profession too. As I saw through how she was being attended to by those waitresses, and the upsetness of my wife, several things came to mind – the smile, the patience, the attentiveness, the concerned expression, the willingness to share our customers disappointments and ‘fight’ for their rights – all these were just not apparent.

We need to let our customers know we are with them? Because IF THEY KNOW THIS, THEN THEY WILL BE WITH US TO HELP US GROW OUR BUSINESS, OUR REVENUE.

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