I’m going out on a limb here and state that every business of every stripe has customers AND that key to business health is strong, positive customer service ethics.
So, what is customer service? Susan Ward over at About.com:Small Business: Canada says it pretty well:
- “Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers…The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue….”
What’s very good is when a business makes customer service the first in their list of values for the vision of their company as does IHOP – yep, International House of Pancakes. In their statement of coporate vision, IHOP says their “…Vision is to become number one in family dining….” Their first listed Value is “Customer Focus:”
- “…We are always focused on satisfying the needs of our customers and guests….”
How do you test for effectiveness of customer service?
- Do your customers enjoy their interaction with you at the time of transaction?
- Do your customers give positive feedback right then and there at the termination of their transaction?
- Do you ever see that particular customer ever again?
- Do you think that customer will tell others about their good experience with your business? [key to referral business]
Yesterday we had a late breakfast at our local IHOP. It’s not my purpose in my blog posts to necessarily give recommendations or promotion to any business other than my own….however I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, and my IHOP met my above 4 points for testing the effectiveness of IHOP’s stated value of Customer Focus:
- As a customer yesterday I did enjoy the interaction we had with our waiter. Being Sunday, and being a family eatery, they were busy. We did have to put our name on the list and did have to wait on the bench, but it wasn’t for very long. The hostess who greeted us initially smiled and was friendly. The tiny entry area was decorated for Christmas. When we did get seated it was clear that the restaurant was very busy but there seemed to be enough staff on hand to cover it. The young man who was our waiter was friendly and courteous, giving us enough of his time to patiently take our order. He brought our beverages out quickly. I watched him skillfully duck and weave his way through the tables and the food take-out area. He was busy but seemed to give every customer at every table a smile and good quality care in the taking/delivery/clean-up of their meal.
- I don’t often do this, but I told our waiter how much I appreciated his good service. We expressed it also through the traditional practice of tipping – when I was in my early 20’s I worked as a waitress for a time so I know how much work it truly is. Also, as we were leaving the hostess wished us a happy holiday and we returned the sentiment.
- Our IHOP will see us as customers again. This wasn’t our first visit, nor will it be our last, but yesterday was expectional service.
- As a customer I will tell others of my experience. I will refer people to this eatery. Not everyone finds the IHOP menu to their liking, but I like it; what I like better, however, is good customer service.
This is just one example of a good customer service experience. But every business must rely on the good graces of their customers for future business growth. It only makes sense to do as IHOP does – make Customer Focus the first value.