Negative comments about the quality of customer service by renowned food writer, Georgina Campbell, in a recent interview with Matt Cooper of TodayFM, have set the hospitality industry on edge.
Not surprisingly, the sector has become defensive and Fáilte Ireland’s surveys of overseas tourists suggest strong visitor satisfaction, with 93% describing the service they received as either good or very good.
But be careful. There is a world of difference between a customer rating your business as good or very good. A ‘Good’ rating merely means that you were ‘OK’. That does not mean the customer is a raving fan of your business, in a great hurry to return and to pass on lots of positive word of mouth.
So let’s take a step back from the argument of whether we are good or bad and look at the consequence instead of have either brilliant service, good service or poor service. Customer service is not just about making customers happy. The main reason any business should obsess about the ratings they are receiving is that extremely happy customers are the only ones you can rely on to spread the word about your restaurant, shop or other professional service.
The reason you need to be getting 9/10 or 10/10 is that customers’ only motivation in giving you POM (Positive Word of Mouth) is that they will make their friends or family happy. They are not doing it for your sake. So if they have any doubt in their minds (anything from 8/10 downwards!) they will be reluctant to recommend you. It makes sense.
‘Irish service has a warmth and charm that is in many ways the beneficiary of not having been put through some awful scripted process that makes us feel we are being served by Barbie and Ken.’
I ‘mystery shop’ all types of service businesses on behalf of clients. What do I find? Well, Irish service has a warmth and charm that is in many ways the beneficiary of not having been put through some awful scripted process that makes us feel we are being served by Barbie and Ken. So this may account for the positive feedback we get about our unique brand of service in Ireland. But I am visiting businesses for a different reason. I am carrying out marketing and service audits for businesses to see how and where they can increase sales opportunities. And this is where Irish service in general falls down. We do not understand how to link great customer service with selling. That must in turn be built on really thorough product knowledge, an ability to diagnose customers’ real needs and then to match those needs with products or services that really meet those needs.
And we’ve all heard those sales assistants who tell poor customers that they look great in an outfit that doesn’t suit them. Or that oversell or miss-sell. That’s business for one season only.
So my advice? Train your team to a point where they are confident, competent and knowledgeable in representing whatever it is your business is selling. Whether its food or printing services, the tenets of great service remain the same.
Remember, people buy people before they buy products!