21 Customer Service Tips from Industry Publications

Here are 21 Service Tips from Industry leaders. Make a checlist of all 21 to make sure that your estabishment is offering A1 Service…….

  1. You have to set standards to motivate great customer service

    If your mission is top-notch customer service, you need a strategy. Give your staff specific rules on how to behave with customers. Be sure to include:

    Friendliness

    Don’t simply tell workers to smile and say hello. Instruct them to engage customers as they come into the store or department. If they know a customer’s name, they should use it. If they remember something the customer bought last week, they can ask whether the product lived up to expectations. And they should always acknowledge a customer’s presence even when they’re helping someone else.

    Service

    If your goal is to make sure everyone is promptly served, you need to define “promptly.” Set specific rules, such as “Each customer must be served within five minutes.” And if workers are tied up with other customers, they should be able to call for backup.

    Neatness

    As some managers were shocked to learn in the early days of casual dress codes, people have startlingly different views of what constitutes an appropriate workplace wardrobe. Even if your staff wears uniforms, you should provide reasonable guidelines for, say, how you expect those uniforms to look when workers are on the floor.

    Conduct

    Don’t assume employees instinctively know how to behave around customers. Carefully instruct workers to avoid cursing, gossiping, and discussing their personal lives with those they’ve been hired to serve. In the workplace, nothing goes without saying, and sometimes that’s the problem.

    Conflict

    Provide step-be-step guidelines for handling prickly customers. If your workers are unable to resolve a problem after a set number of minutes—or if customers request to see someone else—employees should immediately call in a supervisor. Sometimes all it takes to satisfy customers is the perception that someone in authority is willing to intercede on their behalf.

    Source: The Motivational Manager

  2. They’ve taken the restroom survey…

    Some questions and responses to a survey about restaurant restrooms:

    Describe an ideal restaurant bathroom:

    • It must be sparkling clean with a fresh smell
    • décor that reflects the character of the restaurant
    • The lighting should be bright and there should be plenty of supplies
    • Roomy stalls, with automatic flush toilets
    • Doors going back into the restaurant that can be opened with a push, rather than having to touch a door handle
    • A lounge for resting or nursing babies
    • A built-in space to keep your packages up off the floor.
    • Enough stalls to accommodate guests so they don’t have to wait to use the facility

    Respondents with children added the following:

    • Diaper changing stations with supplies such as paper towels in both the women’s and men’s restrooms
    • A stool to help children reach the sink and soap low enough for children to use
    • Family restrooms where school aged kids can be supervised by their parents

    How does the condition of the restroom affect your decision to return?

    • Eighty percent would not want to return to restaurants with dirty bathrooms
    • If the bathroom is a mess, then the kitchen’s cleanliness is questionable
    • Only 20 percent said they would return to a restaurant with a dirty bathroom

    What do your prefer, automatic hand dryers or paper towels?

    • Seventy eight percent of those surveyed like paper towels over automatic hand dryers

    Source: Hospitality News

  3. The ‘nice’ customer who never complains—and never comes back

    “You know me. I’m a nice person. When I get lousy service, I never complain. I never kick. I never criticize and I wouldn’t dream of making a scene.

    “I’m one of those nice customers. And I’ll tell you what else I am. I’m the customer who doesn’t come back. I take whatever you hand out, because I know I’m not coming back. I could tell you off and feel better, but in the long run, it’s better just to leave quietly.

    “You see, a nice customer like me, multiplied by others like me, can bring a business to its knees. There are plenty of us. When we get pushed far enough, we go to one of your competitors.”

  4. Set a good customer service example

    You tell employees to prioritize customer service and treat customers with respect. Then when you’re called in to resolve a problem, you’re abrupt or argumentative or workers see you rolling your eyes behind the customer’s back. What message does that send? When dealing with customers, make sure you exhibit the behavior you want employees to emulate.

    Source: Adapted from Customer Service: The Key to Your Competitive Edge, by Peggy Morrow (Advantage Plus Publishers)

  5. What does rudeness cost?

    Eticon, an etiquette consulting company based in Columbia, SC, surveyed 1,281 people across the United States. They found that 80% of the respondents believed that rudeness in business is increasing. Some other questions and responses:

    What is your biggest etiquette-related complaint?

    • Telephone rudeness, including tone of voice and impolite language (39%)
    • Indifference or inattentiveness to customers (39%)
    • Long waits for service (34%)
    • Long, abrupt telephone holds (27%)

    What behaviors do you appreciate the most?

    • Friendly, quick greeting (60%)
    • Being helpful beyond your job (39%)
    • Appreciation of the customer (38%)

    When asked how the reacted to bad manners or rudeness, 58% indicated that they take their business elsewhere, even if the competitor is out of the way or charges higher prices.

    Source: “Ask Annie,” Fortune

  6. Top 10 customer service turnoffs

    1. Seating guests at a table with a tip on it

      (Makes them feel uncomfortable)

    2. Greeting guests with a number

      (“Two?” Instead, smile and say “Hi, Two for lunch today?”)

    3. Answering your phone with “Hold, please”

      (Rude, rude, rude)

    4. Pouring coffee from a stained coffee pot

      (“No more for me, thanks.”)

    5. Not acknowledging waiting guests

      (“It shouldn’t be much longer.”)

    6. Discussion groups of three or four idle servers

      (If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.)

    7. Messy back bar

      (Sure sign of a messy bartender)

    8. Not knowing what they are drinking

      (“Um, I think this is the Diet Pepsi…”)

    9. Dirty plates in hand when greeting customers

      (“Hi, ready for dessert?”)

    10. Auctioning food

      (“OK, who gets the burger?”)

    Source: Service that Sells! The Art of Profitable Hospitality

  7. Provide assistance at crunch time

    What happens when you’re trying to refill coffees but the pot is empty, table #7 wants to order now because they have to get back to work, #19 needs their check to because they are late for a flight, the beautiful children at #23 just knocked over their milk, and the Irish Coffee for #25 is “dying” at the bar?

    Servers can be very territorial and resist asking for assistance from others. Real professional discipline is required to know when and how to ask for help. Usually the assistance involves only 10–45 seconds. This minimizes the stress and takes care of our valuable customers’ needs in a timely fashion.

    When to ask: As soon as you get that little twinge that things are starting to unravel. Don’t wait until you are stressed out or ready to explode. Ask in advance and maintain control of the situation.

    Do not say: “Can someone help me?” In the flurry of activity, everyone is busy, and such a general request will pretty much go ignored.

    Be specific: Be brief. Say exactly what you need. “Can somebody greet my new table #27?” “Will someone drop my check at #19?” “Can someone deliver my Irish Coffee to #25?“ Note that each specific task requires very little time from your teammates.

    Make eye contact: Look at someone when you announce your needs. The eye contact generates commitment. Given the number of staff on the floor, someone will be able to help you.

    Teamwork: What goes around comes around. Offer assistance when your associates appear to be struggling. We all get overwhelmed at times and need brief support. And remember, as professionals we all deserve one another’s courtesy and respect. Always say “please” and “thank you!”

    Source: Northwest Hospitality News

  8. Ask a question using the word one

    How did you respond to the last restaurant cashier who asked, “Was everything all right?” You probably said “yes” even if the coffee was weaker than you like it. Why weren’t you more truthful and more helpful to the management of that restaurant? You were asked the wrong question! The question you and nearly every other customer in line would have answered more honestly is:

    “What’s one thing we could have done to have made your meal a more enjoyable experience?”

  9. What makes a toddler-friendly restaurant?

    Restaurants and Institutions magazine recently asked a number of parents what they think makes a restaurant friendly to children under five. Here are some of their responses:

    • It’s important that the waiters are friendly to kids. Not only should they do the normal stuff, like bringing extra napkins, but they should also interact with the kids. Kids pick up real quick whether a place actually enjoys having them around.
    • Bring the kids’ food early.
    • A dead giveaway is whether the place has a highchair. If they don’t they haven’t given much thought to the matter, and you probably don’t want to go there.
    • A given is crayons, place mats and a kids’ menu. That says they expect to have children and know how to take care of them. Lids on drinks, extra napkins and crackers are also critical.
    • Bakers Square has crayons. Chili’s brings us a whole basket of saltines, and spoons when we ask for them, and they never complain about the mess on the floor. I think McDonald’s and Burger King have the best-quality kid stuff. That’s a concern. I don’t want toys falling apart in my children’s mouths.
    • T.G.I. Friday’s provides the usual but also a free sundae if my kids wear their Friday’s pin. This means the kids are always bugging us to go there. They want their free sundae: they want to feel important.
    • Places with child-size silverware.
    • We were at a really fancy place in Florida, and they had an aquarium. That kept our two boys enthralled for quite some time. My husband and I actually managed to carry on a conversation!
  10. Less choice can mean better service

    Pare down the menu. It’s easy to forget that service often relates to the time it takes people to make a decision on what to order. Too many choices are too time-consuming to wade through and often only create confusion.

  11. Give your customers a ring

    Some people will compliment your restaurant as they’re leaving and others will lodge a complaint, but most people eat and leave without saying a word. So how do you know if they’ve had a pleasant dining experience? Steak & Ale knows because any customer who makes a reservation and eats at the Dallas-based chain is called back several days after their visit.

    Customers are called for two reasons. The first is to thank them for choosing Steak & Ale. The second is to do some damage control if the experience was not satisfactory. An incentive to return, such as a free appetizer, is offered if that was the case.

    The callbacks demonstrate that Steak & Ale cares about the customer experience. The callbacks are also a surprise because customers are not used to that level of service, which helps to remind them of Steak & Ale for future dining decisions.

  12. Minimize coffee refill interruptions

    Part of great service is eliminating unnecessary distractions so that your guests can truly relax and enjoy their meal. One way to reduce coffee-related interruptions is to serve decaffeinated coffee in a slightly different shaped cup. That way, servers can instantly spot each guest’s coffee preference at a glance rather than having to repeatedly ask “Regular or decaf?” Some restaurants creat e a similar visual cue by placing a paper doily under cups containing “decaf”.

    As an additional small courtesy, train servers to make an effort to always serve their coffee cups with the handles rotated to the “ 5 o’clock” position so that their guests can easily reach the handle without having to turn the cup themselves.

  13. Adopt the two-person rule

    Never make a customer talk to more than two people in order to resolve a problem. If you’re the second person to deal with the customer, you “own” them. Either solve the problem immediately, or get a phone number and a convenient time to call back.

    Source: 180 Ways to Walk the Customer Service Talk, by Eric Harvey

  14. Everyday phrases for better service

    The best-laid plans for growing your business will fail if you can’t inspire customer loyalty. Here are some words for creating customer confidence:

    “I’ll take care of that for you”

    Wherever a problem first appears is the only place to solve it. These words assure customers that employees are empowered to make problems disappear.

    “I take full responsibility”

    When was the last time you heard these words? Nothing creates loyalty faster than people taking responsibility, admitting mistakes, and creating solutions.

    “We want your business”

    Remember the story about the librarian who said it would be easy to keep the library in order—if only people didn’t keep checking out books? Too many businesses convey the impression that customers are an inconvenience.

    “Thanks for thinking of us”

    When customers entrust their business to you, they pay you a compliment. This simple phrase reminds everyone in your organization of this.

    “Consider it done”

    These magic words create more sales than all the training and marketing programs in the world. Assure customers they’re in good hands; then follow through. They’ll never consider going anywhere else.”

    Source: The New Magnet Marketing (Chandler House), by John R. Graham

  15. Ten ways to care for your best customers

    1. Learn their name
    2. Eventually, introduce them to all front-of-the-house staff
    3. Treat them with formal respect (sir, ma’am, etc., unless excused by them)
    4. Address them by name (Ms., Mrs., Mr., Dr., etc.)
    5. Communicate their likes and dislikes to everyone who needs to know
    6. Occasionally give them something extra that they will enjoy
    7. Thank them for recommending other diners
    8. Avoid mailing them promotional pieces unless they request them
    9. Extend special invitations in person, if possible
    10. Address them by name (repeated for emphasis)
  16. Body language research shows server secrets for better tips

    1. Smile
    2. Introduce yourself
    3. Get down to eye level
    4. A casual touch (an almost imperceptible brush on the customer’s shoulder or palm)
    5. Doodle on the check
    6. Use a tip tray with a credit-card insignia
    7. Write “thank you” on the back of the check
  17. Four simple things every customer wants

    1. Look at Me
    2. Smile at Me
    3. Talk to Me
    4. Thank Me
  18. Without body language, words carry little impact

    Experts have concluded that as little as 10 percent of the impact of your spoken message is carried by the actual words you use. Nearly 40 percent is carried by your “vocals” – your tone, inflection, emphasis, pitch, rhythm, volume, and rate. More than50 percent of the impact comes from body language – your eyes, face, hair, gestures, posture, cosmetics, accessories, clothing, actions, and use of space. When communicating with customers, it’s not enough to watch what you say; you also have to watch how you say it.

  19. Cash register message highlights soft skill deficiency

    Cash register manufacturer NCR offers restaurateurs a software function that prompts cashiers to say “Hello” and “Thank you” to customers in the checkout line. It’s apparently a symptom of an overall lack of so-called “soft” (that is, non-technical) skills in today’s workforce. In a survey on workforce shortcomings conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers, two-thirds of the Association’s 14,000 members said that employees’ deficiencies in such soft skills as timeliness, attendance, and general work ethic have hurt their productivity and relations with customers.

    Source: Leading for Results, Taking the High Road While Improving the Bottom Line

  20. Align Commerce with Values

    Many companies work under the assumption that consumers are chiefly concerned with purchasing the very best goods at the lowest possible price, and receiving plenty of value-added services in addition. The truth is, consumers are looking for values, not just value. They want recognition as human beings, not just a 30 percent discount.

    Source: The Myth of Excellence, By Fred Crawford and Ryan Mathews

  21. Effective surveys

    Customer service experts say customers are getting bored with most surveys and follow-up calls. They simply get too many, and they feel that most surveys homogenize their responses. They don’t think that many changes result from survey input. They get frustrated by questions they find to be meaningless. Consider these guidelines when designing your next customer survey:

    1. Questions about customer concerns should predominate.
    2. Seek out the most demanding customers. You will see the future through their eyes.
    3. Discount any information that is exactly what you expect.
    4. Non-customers say more about future opportunities than existing customers – if for no other reason than there are more non-customers – so listen to them.

    Source: One Size Fits One, by Gary Heil, Tom Parker, and Deborah C. Stephens, as seen in The Competitive Advantage