Customer Service

Cornelia and I meet every Tuesday to work on marketing our book, The Big Book of HR; to discuss plans for our next book; to toss around blog ideas and to generally catch up on what is going on in our lives. We have been meeting at the same restaurant for over a year and have been observing the woman who waits on us each and every week.

Watching her got us to talking about customer service and customer satisfaction. She is highly efficient and that is something to be admired in a service worker. But, that alone wouldn’t do it! She remembers what I always order and gets it right every time. That is impressive, for sure! But, what really sets her apart from all the other people we meet is her genuine smile and her warm greeting! She makes me feel as if I am doing her a favor by coming in each week and ordering my omelet and Diet Coke.

Since we see her every week (and sometimes more often), we’ve gotten to know her name. She has also shared with us some things about her working environment that, as HR professionals, we don’t like such as no paid time off. She doesn’t complain—just answered a question when we asked why she always seems to be working!
She has become my model for what customer satisfaction is—not just good service because I can get that a lot of places. Customer satisfaction is going beyond what even the customer expects and she does that every time I go in that restaurant.

What makes this even more remarkable is I watch her treat everyone the same way and I guess I should mention, this is not a place where there is tipping—it is a cafeteria concept where she takes the order and the money—someone else brings the food to the table. After the transaction is complete, she always says, “Have a beautiful day!”—with a warm smile which says she really means it!

That brings me to the rest of the story—the person who brings the food. She also has worked in this restaurant for as long as I’ve been going there. She does her job—she brings what was ordered to the table. One day I asked her how she was doing and she unloaded all her complaints about the restaurant, her manager, her co-workers and more! I was shocked since I really don’t think it is appropriate for people to tell customers about their problems but what it really pointed out was the extreme contrast from our wonderful cashier who is always smiling and always positive with this person who works in the same place but sees the work or her role in such a different way.

It is probably overkill to mention Disney but anytime I talk about customer satisfaction, Disney comes to mind. I love how they think of every experience a guest has in one of their theme parks as important—from parking your car to what you eat, to how secure you feel, to how clean the restrooms are…you get the picture—everything matters. They provide their cast members with wallet sized cards to remind them of the role they play in making sure the guest has a great time. They believe that “the customer experience should include a thousand small wows—pleasant encounters between cast members and customers.” They believe that good service creates an emotional rather than a purely rational connection with the customer…and they’re right.

You’ve probably met people just like these two women I’ve described or have had a great Disney experience and we’d love to hear your stories. And, if you are an employer of service workers, remind them of the tremendous impact they have on customers!

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Managing people is the most challenging part of any leader's day. And that job certainly is not getting any easier. The Big Book of HR will provide any HR professional, manager, or business owner of any size organization the information they need to get the most from their talent. It is filled with information on everything from the most strategic HR-related issues to the smallest tactical detail of how to manage people.