We Are All Customers Too

We buy products and services and we walk away feeling either satisfied or dissatisfied with the service we have received.

We know how we feel when we receive excellent or not so excellent service. How many times have you walked away and thought “Wow that was amazing” or perhaps “That was terrible”.

I met a friend for a coffee and was looking forward to a relaxing chat. However it wasn’t as I expected. We arrived at the coffee shop an hour and a half before closing. There was only one young girl behind the counter and a queue of at least 8 customers in front of us with several more behind. Two other staff members appeared and there was a “sigh” of relief from surrounding customers. Their delight was short lived when they noticed the 2 staff members started to put away cups and saucers giving no indication that they were about assist their colleague. A customer behind shouted “How many staff does it take to put away cups? C’mon someone serve please, we’ve waited ages?” The two staff members continued to put the cups away oblivious to the comments. I looked around and could see 6 staff members who appeared to be tidying up behind an adjacent counter that was closed. Two customers behind us went over in the hope they could be served quicker on the other side only to return muttering “For goodness sake this is ridiculous, let’s go”. Finally it was our turn and we placed our order. I thanked the young girl and as she looked at me I thought she was about to burst into tears.

We sat down ready for a good catch up but sadly it was not to be. After about 5 minutes we could hear a constant loud banging. I asked a young lad clearing the tables what the noise was and he replied “Oh that…we have to de-ice the freezer before we close”. I looked around the corner and could see a staff member banging what looked like a rolling pin on a small unit behind the counter. The noise continued, customers started to leave and we did the same as the atmosphere was not relaxing.

There are several points to this experience such as: Had there been more staff behind the counter serving customers rather than tidying up then customers may not have left. Had the staff member not started de-icing the freezer in the way they did then customers may have stayed and perhaps bought another coffee or cake. Where was the manager? Was this happening because there was no manager on duty or perhaps the manager was on duty which raises another point entirely.

Sit down with your front line teams and ask them to share their experiences and how they feel in certain situations when they are a customer.

If we can identify what WE experience when WE are the customer and consider how the experience makes us feel then we are in a better position to deliver an improved service to our own customers.

We need to re-educate teams on the importance of Customer Service and how, what we do, can greatly affect service delivery.