My wife and I went for breakfast one Sunday morning at one of our favorite cafes. The friendly waitress took my order for an omelet but trying to eat healthier, I ordered it without cheese, which I love. The waitress later returned with our orders, refilled our coffees, smiled and asked if we needed anything else. We thanked her and said we were all set.
As she walked away I cut into my omelet … and found ooey gooey delicious cheese. Stay with me here, this is not about the cheese.
Now, my “intention” to eat healthier was sincere so I was satisfied with myself for trying and decided to enjoy one more omelet with cheese. What I didn’t realize is that waitress had noticed my facial expression when I saw the cheese.
Even though I planned not to complain or send it back, my body language said otherwise … and she took note.
About thirty seconds later, the waitress returned and asked if everything was alright because it appeared to her “by the look on your face” (her words) that something was wrong.
I was blown away! What amazed me was not her noticing but her pro-active action before I could complain (which I was not going to). This is an exceptional level of customer experience awareness and how every customer facing professional should act if they see any sign of a customer having an issue.
Instead of looking the other way and avoiding conflict, which is human nature, she charged in looking to resolve whatever issue she met. Even if I was upset, her caring would have diffused me (unless I was a complete jerk).
She saw something and said something. She took action versus looking the other way. As a customer she proved to me that she, the face of the restaurant, genuinely cared that I was happy.
Now, had she not noticed AND I didn’t complain, here’s a statistic I quote often from the “White House Office of Consumer Affairs”
For every one customer that complains, twenty-six don’t!
That does NOT mean that those twenty-six are happy. It means they silently suffer and choose to avoid conflict. An even scarier statistic is that
68% of customers will stop doing business with you due to a feeling of indifference; that the company does not care.
The absence of customer feedback or complaints is a poor and inaccurate measure of customer satisfaction.
Become a customer experience “minesweeper.” A minesweeper is a ship equipped to purposefully search for explosive mines and deal with them.
Actively look for signs that a customer is unhappy, be prepared for anything and be ready to diffuse, resolve an issue. Perhaps someone is wandering aimlessly in the aisles (we’ve all done that looking for something) or has some subtle body language or tone of voice that says they need help.
If you bravely go where few dare to follow, are an empowered employee with skills to resolve issues, you will blow away customers regardless of the situation. Complaints and issues are an opportunity to show customers that you care. This pays off in huge dividends of customer loyalty and retention.
So what happened with my omelet?
I thanked the waitress and complimented her ( I always praise when deserved) on her attentiveness and then enjoyed every single bite of the gloriously cheesy omelet. I later wrote a letter to the restaurant to compliment her action. Always compliment truly great service and efforts! To quote Dale Carnegie, “people who feel appreciated try harder” and he was/is spot on.
Remember, see something, say something. Become a customer experience minesweeper.
-Please read my other posts for ways to help improve your company’s customer service and share it if you’ve found it helpful.
About the Author
Gerry Criscenzo, founder of Advanced Service Knowledge is passionate about delivering an exceptional customer experience. He has over 30 years experience managing customer facing teams in very demanding customer service industries such as automotive services, IT Services and Home Remodeling/Contractor Services. Gerry is available for consulting, keynote speaking and training. Read more
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