Come on People! Up Your Customer Services Game – You will Love It!!

I had to put pen to paper, or at least finger tips to keyboard, on this one.   Over the last few weeks I have increasingly noticed the wide gap between those that provide a good a customer experience and those that don’t – and I just dont get why anyone wouldn’t!?

Smile over the Smelly Fish and Chips  
OK, so I am in the customer services industry and have been for most of life.  I still don’t get why it doesn’t come naturally to be polite and friendly.  Its far more fun.  One of my first jobs was working in a chip shop when at School.  Even as young School girls working in a smelly and greasy environment, my colleague Kirsty and I made the most of our job.  We had fun and quickly noticed it rubbed off on the customers.  They liked to joke and laugh with us as we had races to see which of us could wrap the chips the quickest.   They would tell us about their days and we would smile and listen and cheer them up.  That was our job.  People would queue up to have our fish and chips.  I certainly don’t think they were the best in town, but we made the experience pleasurable.

Hotels – where do I start!
Part of my role involves a lot of travel.  The best thing that happened to the hotel and leisure industry is TripAdvisor.   This site puts them on the radar.  Every customer that walks through their doors could make or break them.   Hang on though, why do so many hotels not think about that.  I recently stayed at one of Dublin’s grandest and oldest hotels.  It used to be the place to go.  The building is still grand.  Communal areas such as the reception and coffee lounge ooze money of long gone days, decadence and somewhere special to be.  Although some bedrooms are still a little ‘tired’, many rooms have been recently renovated to a good standard.  This hotel is just a few tweaks from being as grand as it once was.  Then why can you book a room there for as little as EUR55?  I believe it has to be down to customer services.  OK, yes they need a good gym or spa and have opted to inconvenience customers by telling them to go across the road to one that you have to pay EUR10 per day for, that is annoying. However, the worst thing any hotel can do is ignore its customers.  I was working there and so on several occasions over the 4 days I was there I ventured in the bar or coffee lounge for a break.  On all occasions I sat their waiting and trying patiently to gain staff attention.  Sometimes I just go up and walked away after 45 minutes of no service.  On the couple of times I did get served, the staff seemed to be in hurry to get away.  If there was more than one in my group, they would take an order from one and rush off without checking if anyone else needed anything.   Rubbish with a capital ‘R’.   The staff did not look happy to be there and to be quite frank, it did not make me want to be there, or go back.

In reverse to that, I was in South Africa on business and stayed at the lovely Beverly Hills Hotel in Durban.  Nothing was too much for the staff.  Even though it is a large hotel, from check in to check out, they took time to ask me about my stay, what I needed and delivered.  They remembered who I was and would great me by name and always a smile.  I had guests turn up and they would show them to where I was meeting them in person.  If I asked directions to go somewhere they would take me.  Nothing was too much.   Would I be back?  Like a shot and as you can see from Trip Advisor I might be fighting for a room, people love them so much.

Great Customer Services Debenhams – I will be back!   
Today I visited Debenhams – the staff were friendly, in each department they would ask if I need assistance, without being pushy.  They showed me around the shop, telling me they have other sizes- even in the sales shoes.  I walked out with 5 pairs having gone in for 1.  On returning to the office I found out I had left my smart phone (i.e. my life) somewhere and quickly retraced my steps.  First 2 two places said they didn’t have it, but didn’t make much of an effort to help, offer to take my number should it turn up or give me the impression they cared.  Debenhams were amazing.  The lady in the shoe department dropped what she was doing to take me to another lady who could radio to lost property.  Lost property had already had a call and could tell me immediately which department it was in.  The care they showed was amazing.  I would not hesitate to go back and have already told several people, including writing this blog.

Last week alone 8675 people in Britain have decided to start a new business
Look at Start up Britain’s web site, at time of writing they have said that in the last week alone 8675 people in Britain have decided to start a new business.  That’s just Britain, we are competing in a worldwide market now.  With so many new businesses starting up every day we have to stand out to survive.   My recent experience of web development companies has really highlighted just how bad it can get.  I mean, how many web development companies are there out there?  I get at least 5 approaches a day and they are just those that get past the gatekeeper or spam.  I can not believe how many have fired a quote to me before I have even told them what I am looking for.  Before they have worked out what issues I have had in the past so they can sell back a solution.   Who seem to have the attitude of take it or leave it.   I have received quotes ranging from £300 to £30,000, but not even given anyone a brief yet!   I might just start a wager on which will still be here in a year..

It takes around 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 muscles to smile…
Customers have a choice of where they go and will vote with their feet…. Make sure they choose you and do not become a failed business statistic!  Honestly, you will have move fun being nice.  As a good friend always says ‘Its Nice To be Nice!’….

Written By Abigail Stevens, Managing Director, Think Global Recruitment