Customer Service is a two way Street.
Customer service is the cornerstone of any successful business, period. 99% of the time. First let’s look at the 3 main principles of the customer service relationship. Then let’s look at the 1% thingy, when on occasion the customer has gone to far and must be fired. That’s correct sometimes, rarely, you have to fire a customer.
The Customer Is Always Right
It is the golden rule of business. Even if you think the customer is wrong, you never, ever, tell them that. Be understanding and empathetic and take the time to listen to their complaint or suggestion. Problems will inevitably arise in even the best of restaurants – it’s how you handle them that will determine if customer return or go elsewhere.
Good Customer Service Involves the Entire Staff
While the front of the house is the face customers see, customer service includes everyone, from the maintenance crew to the cooks in the kitchen. Clean restrooms, good food, and a friendly and inviting atmosphere are all components of good customer service, in which every restaurant employee plays a role.
Know How to Handle Disruptive Customers
Occasionally you may have to deal with a customer who has had too much to drink or is in some other way acting out. Be sure you and your staff know how to effectively and safely deal with disruptive customers. One key strategy is to stop serving alcohol immediately if a person shows signs of intoxication.
THE 1% SOLUTION
On occasion the customer or some aspect of the service relationship breaks down. Nobody, and I mean nobody deserves to be disrespected under any circumstance. This is when you have to fire the customer. In my 30 plus years in this industry it has only happened 3 times. Keeping in mind that I have dealt with thousands of customers in this period, that’s pretty good. For the sake of discussion, here is one my examples. Over the last number of years my company has gifted between two primary functions, catering and consulting. Consulting pays well, but can be very frustrating work. You are hired to help a company be more successful and profitable, period. Seems simple enough, you offer solutions and implement positive changes. More often than not, the client doesn’t really want to change anything. There is the irony. They are basically paying you to do the same thing they have been doing for years, in some cases decades. In the past I would just play along, and collect the paycheck. More recently, I have decided to be more picky about the contracts I accept. Why? Because my name and reputation is also part of the agreement, and I want to work with winners.
So, what about the 99%? This is your gold, treat these customers like royalty, and likewise you will be treated as such. All relationships, personal, business and social should ALWAYS be Win:Win. Anything else is a broken or destined to be broken contract. Keep your stick on the ice, we are all in this together. Cheers, and have a great weekend!