Sometimes what we don’t say, says so much more than what is said. Precisely the situation I was in last night at one of our local restaurants. I go there because the food is excellent, and I can sit quietly between training sessions (when I need to have a break before starting work in the evening). As I was saying, ‘the food is excellent’. And this is what I said to the bar manager when he asked, “how was your meal sir?”. But what I didn’t say was what was foremost in my head. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to give him some feedback, so I just kept my thoughts to myself, remained polite and went on my way (like what so many would do in the same situation!).
The food was excellent, but the waitress was terrible. Not for the first time I hasten to add (hmm, is that quick enough?). I ate at the same place a few weeks ago, with the same waitress serving me, and had exactly the same experience (in fact worse!). I said to myself on that occasion, that I wouldn’t be back. But last night I thought, ‘you know its normally pretty good, and last time was probably just someone having a bad night’. I came in and asked for a table for one. There was only one other sitting at the time. I was spoken to in a way that made me feel that it was a nuisance that a table was going to need to be set up for me at that time (it was dinner time btw). I was given a menu. I made my choice and placed the menu back on the table (an indication that I was ready!). The waitress saw me do this. She then proceeded to pass my table 11 times (yes, I counted) without asking me for an order. Granted, two of those occasions was to serve the other table, the other 9 were just trips backward and forward doing stuff (although a few of these were not actually doing anything other than making me feel ignored!). On pass number 12 I asked if she was ready to take my order (seems the wrong way round!). All of this appears to be a bit petty on my part, doesn’t it? But the whole time, from start to finish (c.90 mins later when I left, after my meal), this young lady had a face on her like thunder. As she did the time before. The impression it left with me was immense, to the point that I am writing about it. Do I blame her? OK, yes in part. She is responsible for how she is perceived by the world around her. But what about the person who hired her, the person who trained her, the people working in more senior positions within the establishment? They can all see what we the customers see and ultimately feel. Their product and their brand is evaporating in front of them. That is it for me now. I aint going back.
So here is the message. If you are in a customer facing, service sector role, then a big part of your job description is not just to perform tasks, but it is to do so in a friendly, efficient and approachable (which means smiling as well, or at the very least not being a bear with a sore head) manner. This is part of your job description. If you aint doing it, then you aint doing what you are being paid to do! If this is something you are unable to do, then it doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you are in the wrong job. Customer service is a performance. A customer doesn’t care about what’s going on in your personal life. The customer is coming into your workplace as part of their personal life in order to have an experience that makes them happy and/or feels as if they are being looked after and cared about. The food, in my example above, is only part of the product. The service is every bit as much a part of the product. If both don’t happen to be collectively good, then one will impact upon the other. Customer Service is the product. So, when you are at work in this type of environment you need to put on your happy face, Service with a smile!