Customer service! It can set you apart from your competitors. It really can – either in a good way…or a really, really horrible way. If you and your staff really understand and “care” about your brand, both you and your staff will deliver GREAT customers service. Unfortunately, if neither you nor your staff care, it is quite obvious. Customer service in this case is non-existent.
About a month ago I experienced the latter. (I actually wrote this blog post the day after, but decided to wait to see if I would still feel the same weeks later. I do.) I was meeting up with a couple of different people and decided to go to a new Starbucks in my city. I was looking forward to checking out the new spot. It’s location has great parking and it was convenient for me as I had other errands to run afterwards. Overall, they “get” location, location, location.
When I first walked in, I was impressed with the ascetics. It looked great….on the surface. Once I was in and my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight, there was more than first appeared. First and foremost there were six people working behind the counter. Three were working the drive thru – although there were no cars going through. They were engaged in conversation with each other and two others that were behind the counter. Meanwhile, I stood patiently and waited for someone to wait on me. Did anyone disengage from their personal conversations while a customer waited? Nope. I timed it – six and a half minutes. In the big picture, not a lifetime I realize. In customer service terms however…ya, it was a #fail. I did “finally” get waited on by the sixth person working, but only after she finished flirting with the guy in front of me and messing up his order in between the giggling and goings on. Hey, I get that. I was a teenage girl once too. But..and there is a but, I would not make a customer wait. I worked as a teenager too! I would ensure that “someone” else took care of the customer waiting. After all, there were five other people standing behind the counter. The rest of the crew however, were just too engrossed in their own socializing. Again, a customer service #fail. I should also note that there was at least one other staff person on site.
After being served my coffee and a snack I headed to get a napkin and a lid. This area was a complete and utter disaster. Someone obviously didn’t know how to use the cinnamon shaker. The stuff was all over the place. There was garbage everywhere. It was clear that the six people working there had not cleaned this area in some time. Considering I was there in the morning, I think it was safe to say it was like that the day before.
When I claimed a table, it was not much better. I had to remove the dirty dishes, used napkins and clean up the crumbs. I did look for a cleaner area, but this one was the best, so I settled in.
Approximately 15-20 minutes later, I saw another person emerge from the back of the store. I almost think that she might have been a member of management. This is an assumption on my part because she was clearly more mature than the rest of the team. I thought, o.k. finally someone is going to get these workers..well..working. To my dismay she walked out, looked around and smiled at everyone in the restaurant, but she seemed completely oblivious to the employees who were much more interested in socializing amongst themselves than serving customers and keeping the place clean. She quickly retreated to the back area again and I didn’t see her again.
This was quite disappointing to me as I have a lot of respect for the Starbucks brand. I often use them as case study examples in a lot of my workshops that I deliver. They really do a lot of things well. And, in fairness I did live Tweet about the incident and @starbuckshelp did respond. This is one of the things that they do well – social media. I appreciate that they were listening and did take steps to correct. I haven’t been back, but I will give the new store one more try.
So, what is GREAT Customer Service? Here is my take on it:
G = Genuine people are easy to pick out. This can also be said about people who are not genuine.
Employers need to consciously hire for genuine people. If your staff are more interested in flirting with the cute guy in line versus serving other clients and/or keeping your restaurant clean, you have a serious issue. Employers need to be fully convinced that the staff they are hiring genuinely believe and can extol the values of your business and deliver on your brand promise.
R = Respectful people believe that everyone should be treated well. They understand the value of each person.
E = Exceptional people have a need, no a desire for continuous improvement. Exceptional people can and should be at all levels of the organization. Of course the trick here is that employers need to reward exceptional behaviour. This is a must.
A = Attention to Detail is an asset not everyone has. Unlike some other attributes, this is one that you can train someone to be good at. Taking the steps to ensure that the small things that make a difference are taken care of is something that can set your organization apart. Of course ensuring your establishment is clean is not something that falls into this category. That is something that “just” meets minimum standards.
T = Thoughtful people think of others and how their actions impact others.
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