Customer service doesn’t start when a customer enters the door, it begins the first moment a customer visits a website or calls a restaurant. It takes months, sometimes years, to build a relationship with a customer, and only moments to damage it. Bad customer service is one of the quickest ways to send customers running to your competition. Keep things simple and amicable by avoiding these major customer service barriers.
Unprofessional staff. One of the quickest ways to irritate a customer is presenting them with staff members who are absentminded, poorly trained and uninformed. It is crucial that each employee receives an adequate amount of training to prepare them for the tasks that have been delegated to them. If presented with a question from a customer, they should be knowledgeable enough to provide correct information and solutions. Your staff is a representation of your company, so you want each and every member to put their best foot forward at all times.
Over-promising and under-delivering. Regardless of what industry you’re in, customer satisfaction is always a priority. For this reason, it can be tempting to tell a customer what they want to hear to make them happy. However, making a claim you aren’t capable of is a recipe for disaster. It is prudent that you set realistic customer expectations rather than getting their hopes up only to disappoint them. Customers can tell when a promise seems too good to be true, so you want to be as transparent as possible in your interactions. Make your intentions clear from the start and only guarantee the things you actually are capable of rather than giving customers false hope.
A bad attitude. It is very easy for a customers to pick up on negative attitudes, and the importance of positive communication cannot be stressed enough. This may seem obvious, but simple acknowledgements such as “Thank You” and “I apologize” still mean a lot to many customers. If you disregard basic niceties and conversation etiquette, you can count on losing clientele.
Being impossible to reach. We’ve all had the experience of calling a company and immediately being put on hold, sometimes for minutes, even hours. Even worse, you end up leaving a voicemail and never hearing back from them. If you give a client a phone number, make sure that it is a line that is reliably answered. If you are unable to take a call, ensure that your voicemail messages are clear and your operating hours are easy to locate. When you do respond, do so in a timely fashion, because customer or not, nobody likes to be kept waiting for too long.
Not dressing to impress. As silly as it sounds, hygiene (or lack thereof) plays a big part in your customer’s experience at your establishment. Body odor should never be an issue and you should always be dressed in clean and professional attire. On top of that, it is very important to maintain personal boundaries. If you ever have to stop and question whether you’re crossing a line, you probably are. Being too touchy-feely with customers, asking them personal questions or – worst of all – hitting on them are major customer service faux pas. If your customers don’t feel comfortable, how can you expect them to return?
Forgetting to follow up. Even if you aren’t in the restaurant/bar every day, make a point to try to strengthen your facial recognition of those who frequent your establishment. Remembering something small, like someone’s name, can really set you apart from other companies. The customer will be impressed that out of all the people you see every day, you remember them. It will make them feel appreciated and important and they’ll feel more inclined to continue to be loyal to your business.
Customer service is crucial because it is often the only contact a customer has with a company. As we know, customers are vital to the success of a business. If you consistently provide good customer service, you won’t have to worry about losing clientele. When a mistake occurs – and it will – apologize and own up to your mistake. Honest, genuine interactions speak volumes, and besides, nobody’s interested in hearing excuses.