Creating Excellence in Customer Service

Granted I teach hospitality training and was involved in the business for many years…

Recently, I called a prominent area restaurant to make reservations to be greeted with press 1 or 2.

Not for what language would I like to use but if I had a party of 20 or more press 1 or 2 for fewer than that number.

The first call I made I was on hold for 12-minutes after an operator transferred me to reservations, I know this because my cell phone tells me. I hung up and called a second time to be placed on hold for 10-minutes before I hung up.

The third time, and you can imagine that by now I am getting frustrated, I called and insisted to the operator that I didn’t want to be transferred to reservations that I would like for him to personally take my reservation.

He did and very politely handled the situation probably because I was discernibly frustrated but also because I sensed he understood the situation once explained.

I then asked to be transferred to one of the owners/managers’ voice mails so I could explain how I thought this service was less than acceptable for making reservations.

The young man promptly transferred me and I explained on the voice mail what happened and asked the manager to return the call to me.

The next day I did get a call from the manager’s assistant and I won’t dwell on the outcome of that call but I will say that this establishment as well-known and beloved as it is, that IF it continues to handle reservations this way will eventually lose even regulars like me (we have been 25-plus year fans and supporters).

Simply, here is what you must do to maintain and excel at customer service:

1. Listen to your customers carefully – We are trying to explain what our concern is and we want to do business with you and help you improve or we would not have taken the time to explain our frustration.

2. Apologize personally even if you can’t do anything about it – don’t just tell me how busy you are – I know you are busy and I appreciate that what that implies is that I am not busy and can stay on hold for 10 plus minutes.

3. Solve the problem – or at least assure me that you will review the situation and consider resolutions to the problem. I am not calling to just complain I want to help you do a better job.

Finally, thank your guest for their business and invite them back.

It is just that simple.

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