SCJ_May19

Food for Thought: A Foot in the Mouth

Take Stock’s very own Victor Meldrew, David Jackson takes up the cudgels and has a good old grumble about… well… everything.

Having worked in and around sales all my life, I’m all too aware of the phrase “the customer is king”. I’m aware too of the fact that people who experience bad service are much more likely to share that experience than those where everything has gone swimmingly.

Now, it’s not rocket science to know and understand that customer care is vital to a business. Yet, I continue to be dismayed by businesses that don’t actually appear to give a damn.

I love coffee. Therefore, I want to be be able to enter a coffee shop, get a strong hit, and then be off. What I don’t want to do is give information to a total stranger – which is what I was asked to do recently. “Can I put your name on the cup?” the Barista demanded. “No” I replied. From the reaction, you’d have thought I’d started dancing naked on the counter.

Now, a sensible person would have just nodded, noted what I looked like and that I’d asked for a double espresso, and moved on. In fact, I was asked again for my name and then told they couldn’t serve me unless I provided same. I’m not only old; I’m stubborn too, so I asked to speak to the manager. This bod informed me that asking my name was company policy, and I could take it or leave it. I left.

Now this attitude might be an extreme, but there are so many little things that can make a profound difference in how a business is perceived. For example, one morning, I parked my car next to a wholesaler’s delivery van. The driver was busy unloading supplies. Asking if I’d left him sufficient room, he replied: “You’re absolutely fine there, sir”. Manners at 8.35am? Fantastic! And the result was that not only did I note whom this chap worked for, but I mentioned the experience to colleagues to be told, “Oh, that’s a really good restaurant”. So, I’d got a favourable review of a restaurant because of the actions of someone who wasn’t even a staff member!

OK, people are fickle, but when I receive, see or hear about good service and customer care I’m already on the road towards being a customer.

Then there’s toilets.

You can put up as many signs as you like saying how many times they are checked but if they’re dirty when I have call to use them, I immediately assume the whole establishment (especially the kitchen) is dirty. Unfair? I don’t think so – and I’m the one who’s paying!

If someone’s made an effort with cleanliness, nice soaps, hand towels, etc, I know that I’ll be coming back. I could go on. Tables not cleared or left unwiped? Greasy fingerprinted menu looking like it’s ready for an appearance on Antiques Roadshow? Sauce dispensers with gunged up tops? Litter everywhere?

Your place isn’t like that I’m sure but it’s always worth taking a step back. Look at your business through the eyes of your customers and then demand everyone working within or doing business with you aspires to the highest standards. If you do, it won’t only be the customer that’s king!

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