Saturday, 16 January 2010

How to impress your customers

I was very kindly sent the following 'rules' of service by an ex-hospitality employer - a highly credentialled man, who was/is passionate about customer service. This list of do's and don'ts is something he used to make a point with his staff............

Not good examples of Customer Service

*When a customer enters play hard-to-get or ignore them, if they really want something they will stand at the counter long enough

*Act bored

*Don’t suggest anything, after all they can make up their own minds

*Tell them everything we stock is “beautiful”…Quiche, sandwiches, meat pies, sausage rolls.. all “beautiful”….make sure you don’t use any other words

*If they don’t buy anything, look at them as if they are “nuts”.

*Tell them your personal problems. They love this.

*Don’t worry about your appearance. You weren’t hired as a model and after all, you are busy.

*If you are busy let them know it. Say, “We are busy now but an hour ago we had nobody in here”. Or say, “When it rains it pours”. There are two reasons for this: first they have not heard these sayings enough, and second they are probably blind and can’t see that you are busy.

*Don’t bother to know what is in the quiche or sandwiches or cakes. You are not the chef.

*Knock your employer, supervisor or manager. After all they’re only in it for the money.

*If the customer is a patient (this was for a hospital kiosk) give them medical advice. It worked for you.

*Don’t take nothing from nobody.

*Don’t smile. What is there to smile about?

*If they ask how you are, make sure you say…”Not bad considering it’s a Monday” (or Tuesday, or “considering the weather”, or “great, considering it is Friday”). This makes a lot of sense because all these things (Monday’s and Tuesday’s and Friday’s and rain or cold weather) are so rare.

*If you are busy say “I’ll get to it as soon as I can”…Roll your eyes or act exasperated. It makes them feel more comfortable.

*If your customer looks like a “bogan” treat him like one. If it turns out that he owns half the real estate in Tassie the joke is on you but you have to take the chance.

*Never straighten the stock. A messy place looks busy.

*If you are working with someone else, stay out the back together. They have to recognize that we wouldn’t have two people on anyway unless we were busy.

*Tell them their selection is low in calories. This isn’t an insult.

*If a customer happens to have a complaint, tell him you only work here.

*If they would like to know directions tell them that all you know is where the kitchen and time clocks are

*If all else fails be sarcastic
Posted on by Rita


Christina said...

Not just hospitality either Rita!
A conversation I overheard in Harvey Norman last week blew me away.
A customer went to the service desk and complained that she had been waiting 25 minutes for someone to assist her. She was told that all the staff were busy, they weren't just sitting around talking to their friends on the phone you know, and we only have so many staff !!! After the customer asking to see management, and being told they weren't available either, but she could fill out a complaint form if she'd like, which she agreed to do. Guess what, couldn't find the complaint form. This customer walked out of the shop and in front of me, the service desk attendant said to a workmate, "well we don't need customers like that anyway!".
All this happened while I was standing there and if I hadn't already made my purchase, I wouldn't have.
The customer in question was very quiet with her request, didn't make a fuss, just requested some help getting some service.
I was appalled really.
Maybe I'm lucky to have had mostly great customer service within the food industry.
I think something I was taught when I was younger has helped with this. Treat people as you would like to be treated!
And if ever do have a complaint, another good one is " you catch more flies with honey, than you do with vinegar"!

Maggie said...

How strange. A list of what not to do? I hope this wasn't given to any young and impressionable waitresses who would surely get confused.

I'm assuming this was for entertainment purposes only, and not official policy and procedure in any venue.

If I was handed this by an employer I'd feel a bit patronized. But I could just be taking the waitressing game a bit too seriously.

Rita said...

I agree with you about the 'treat people as you yourself would like to be treated' school of thought, Christina. Shame on HN too!
Maggie - the list was compiled to name up behaviours the guy had obviously previously witnessed, and was made sarcastically! I don't know about handing it to young and impressionable waitresses, but maybe it was them who inspired these very thoughts? I don't know.
Obviously (or not, given that you have commented) the employer is actually wanting his staff to do the exact opposite, and having him write it down like that brings to the fore examples of behaviours he has seen and definitely does not want continued by his staff.
I think that by addressing possible future staff slackness in the forms described in his list, he is wisely, in his own tongue-in-cheek way, providing a warning that these kinds of behaviours won't be tolerated in his workplace, and that he considers customer service that doesn't incorporate these acts, as the kind of behaviours he wants to encourage in his workplace.
Make sense?

Maggie said...

Hi Rita,

Oh I totally get what he was trying to achieve, and the humour is not lost on me. It's kind of patronising though. Not in this format as you have written it, but if it was pinned up on a staffroom noticeboard or something. It's just not good staff training.

Although, I do not know the gentleman in question, or the rapport he had with his staff... so it could have been a highly appropriate way to communicate.

The only view I can take on it is with my waitressing hat on, and if I was handed a piece of paper with those comments written on it I would not have been impressed.

It's just my take on it anyway, I sure everyone will have a different view.

Anonymous said...

Look with the way some customers treat/ignore me they deserve crap treatment.

They are arses.

And it's true, FIRING CUSTOMERS IS GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS if a picky bitch comes in everyday and spends $1 and is a total mole then try to get rid of her.

Rita said...

Now that's just the kind of waitstaff attitude we want to encourage in hospitality in Hobart, Anon 2.59!

Christina said...

Gosh anon2:59. that's so harsh.
I have an aversion to the M word. You couldn't call me much worse actually.
I'd have thought any customer, [particulary their word of mouth], was a valuable customer.
Having said that, in my line I do have a captive audience, but I do try to treat them well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah well Rita + Christina you obviously haven't worked where I have worked.

Look 99% of customers are great. The remainder are idiots. Honestly the way people carry on about little things. I can't stand it.

My attiude towards most customers is great, thankyou very much.

lemon curd said...

I agree with Maggie to some extent Rita - as a staff member I wouldn't be at all impressed if someone presented me with that document, no matter how credentialed the person who wrote it was.

As a private document to laugh at with other seasoned professionals - I very much enjoyed reading it. Others wouldn't get it, as they haven't reached the stage in their career where they are mature enough to embrace customer service as a career rather than viewing it simply as a procedure they follow to earn some bucks.

I used to think that way (happily years and years behind me now), and cringe at some of the exchanges I've had with customers I thought were 'picky bitches' - end of the day, it's a hell of a lot easier and satisfying to see people go away happy than it is to act as if the world owes you a favour. Just because you don't view the 'little thing' they are 'carrying on' about as a problem, doesn't mean they don't see it as one.

steve said...

I LOVED this list Rita!

Rita said...

Hi LC - I suppose that's a situation where it proves we are all different humans, because I would be delighted to be handed that document if I started at a new workplace - as it would actively demonstrate to me a few things: that my new employer has a wonderful sense of humour (such a rarity in this day and age!!) and that he also is that concerned about his customers - which fills me with joy too. And if he's that concerned about his customers, he also would be equally as commited to his employees (ie, me) so being handed that doc would provide me with many feelings of relief rather than insult!
Steve - strikes a chord?

lemon curd said...

So right Rita, we are all different human beings! I thought it was fantastic - and yes love the fact that an owner was dedicated enough to put something like that together.

I just feel that for someone displaying those characteristics, that presenting them with that list (or even pinning it up on the notice board or whatever), may not have the desired effect!

As we can see from above, those who identify with these behaviours still see it as the customers fault they are acting like that rather than an issue they have to address with themselves. Itsa bit difficult :S

I realise I am now completely off topic, so would like to propose the following point as an addendum to his list:

* Chatting with another staff member about your weekend is fantastic, especially if you have your backs to the floor while you're doing it - the customers will be ok for 10 minutes wont they?

Rita said...

Thanks LC - that final one fits in perfectly!

Anon2 said...

The original list is really spot on! It really amazes me when hospitality workers feel the need to show "attitude" in relation to customers, difficult or not. The fact is that most customers respond very positively to friendliness, politeness, efficiency and a smile.
As a service provider you make your own life much easier if you ALWAYS take that approach, even when you are feeling otherwise. When you respond to provocation from the occasional "ugly" customer with rudeness, sarcasm, or start whinging like Basil Fawlty about YOUR problems, you end up "shooting yourself in the foot".
Word spreads, your business suffers, "good" customers stay away, your business fails. Smarten up or choose another industry where you don't have to deal with customers!

sir grumpy said...

Treating people the way you'd like to be treated yourself doesn't always work.
Some of these people are masochists or into self-harm. Must be.
I try to support my local shops if I can, although I like small supermarkets.
At the butcher the other day I stood alone like a pork chop as the butcher ignored me.
He was on the mobile phone, had it cradled between chin and neck, whilst also cutting up chicken.
His offsider was in the back shop.
The phone conversation seemed personal, not business and not emergency in any way.
It may have been a business call to a supplier also a mate but I waited and waited. I gave up because I had to go back to work.
As I left, he swivelled and said: ``be with you in a minute, mate''.
Too late and he's lost my loyalty.
Why couldn't he wrap up the call and attenf to me and get back to the other person later?
Why didn't he sing out for his offsider to attend shop.

Anonymous said...

Sir G where do you work?
hints, hints, hints...

sir grumpy said...

I work here, Anon.
By the way the masochist and self-harm bon mots are not meant to apply to my butcher but the previous tales of poor service from the other respondents!
My local butcher just dropped the ball that day. I'll feel guilty (!) about not using him for a couple of weeks and cave-in and go back, you'll see.
Why do I feel guilty about NOT using my local butcher, barber, bottle shop, etc?
But I do. So I try to give them my dollar. They are, by and large, a good mob.
Rita and others has slapped my wrists over being a supermarket boy but there is a reason.
When I was growing up the choice, or lack of, at our locals shops was a bane.
Supermarkets offered more choice and all the exotic spices and ingredients I craved to make my weekend mess.
That's why.

Anonymous said...

Off topic but:
Written on tea.
Went on the Dyson Mcshane recommendation.
Firstly, language problems with ordering, it became obvious later when the 1st string FOH person came back from break/banking/supply recon etc that ouir person, though sweet, had no idea what to do.
We had pork wontons 15 advertised on menu, (could have been language prob) 8 arrived in steam tray. They smelled that 'dirty' pork smell, I ate three before giving up.
Eel on rice with Bok Choy & sauce. Eel lovely, Bok choy , take it or leave it, rice weird. Firstly it was undercooked, secondly , it was a short grain almost like aborio, I kid you not, thirdly, it was stale. WTF! Awful cept for the lovely eel
The best on ground dish was the green beans with pork sauce & lovely fresh fragrant rice-outstandingly delish- I was so dissappointed with the overall experience-should have gone to Sakura

Rita said...

Interesting you say that Anon 9.46 as I have been there twice in the past week meaning to eat there to see what it is that Roger and Sue like so much about it, but things have transpired each time. I'm a bit relieved about that now, I have to admit, but I WILL get along there soon and see for myself. Forewarned is forearmed though.

Anonymous said...

Hello Rita,
To answer a couple of comments the list was compiled in good humour and had the assistance of the staff in writing it.(they were good staff and I spent more than the national average of 7 minutes a year praising their work). Its interesting that when a list is started the creative juices get flowing and right on Lemon Curd adds a great one we have all seen..talking about the weekend. In the original case the staff added a couple once it was started. How could you more subtly get staff thinking about customer service and effectively training themselves..They really didn't need me. The reality was they were pretty good and one went on to open her own place which has a plaque of good wishes from me... Well done on the site and I will be watching...Your morning coffee partner from last week..F

Rita said...

Thanks for your explanatory notes F. I loved coffee-ing with you and hope to catch up again soon.

Susannah said...

Visited Written on Tea last December. Didn't find the language issues too much of a problem, and the food was excellent. Especially the dumplings, and the green beans were amazing. We dined with some friends who go there regularly, and told us they have never had a bad meal. So perhaps it was just a one-off bad night?