Saturday, 1 January 2000

Kate Domeney, 2007

Kate Domeney – owner of training organisation, The Training Response, which specializes in Customer Service and corporate training.

I spoke to Kate after she had returned from a Customer Service conference in the US.

You’d think that in the US, customer service would be paramount in all scenarios, but Kate found, to her great surprise, that it actually wasn’t. The “have a nice day” customer service concept originated in the US, but….

She felt that service she received in the US varied and generally there seemed to be no sense of connection between the waitstaff and customer. They seemed to be bowed down by the sheer weight of numbers of people they have to service.

Kate felt that if you were, for instance, a Starbucks, and there are heaps of Starbucks and other coffee shops there, why wouldn’t you strive to be sensational? But they weren’t.

On the other hand, in New York City, Kate dined out at a little Italian restaurant, where she ordered a Chicken and Spinach salad. The chicken was flattened, breadcrumbed and fried, and served with a wedge of lemon and the spinach salad. She didn’t like the spinach salad so left it, and was fiddling with the food, when the owner, a typical Italian – gregarious, noisy, friendly – came over to her table, took her knife and fork out of her hands, mixed the salad, put it on top of the chicken, and when she tasted it, she says it was stunning. She didn’t know what the difference was, but she ate all of it. Naturally the owner was delighted with her reaction, and Kate loved the fact that the owner had connected enough with this one particular customer (her) to see her fiddling with the food, and fix the issue.

On the whole, she found the Americans difficult to get through to, and shallow. What you saw on the surface was fine, but beneath that – not much connection at all.

Generally when she’s conducting her customer service training, she tries to highlight the importance of attitude. For instance, you could say to your customer, “Have a nice day”, and find the customer suspects that you aren’t genuine in your wish for them to have a nice day! If you use the same words but the inflection in your voice actually reflects a genuine desire for them to have a really great day, starting with their time with you the waitperson, then that’s a different story. In other words, it’s HOW you say it.

I asked Kate did she think anyone could be taught customer service. She replied that she thought you can change the attitude of some people.

She said you can teach people the words to say, for instance, when answering the phone, but it’s what comes through to the person on the other end of the phone in people’s speech that matters. You need to work with that person. You need to explain to them that YOU think their tone of voice and inflections are important, because if they think it’s not important to answer the phone genuinely, it’s not going to happen, no matter what training they’ve had.

As Kate does a lot of corporate training, her radar is always on regarding customer service. Hence she is a great person to speak to if you find your business needs a good customer service injection. I have done training with Kate and can wholeheartedly endorse the credibility and effectiveness of her work.

You can contact Kate on: