As I made a call the other day, the recording stated a "customer care" representative would be available shortly. At that moment, I realized that it's finally catching on everywhere. With aging baby boomers, world events and additional pressures in today's society; it is "customer care" that has evolved in our economy. We have moved from a manufacturing economy to a service economy and are currently leaning towards a "servicecare" economy. As we live in a high tech-high button touch environment, many personal contacts have been decreased making each customer interaction more important than ever to corporate imagery. For example, if you call for computer tech support, the representative often makes it a point to address you by first name. If it's the bank credit card company, they may ask "How are you doing today?" This makes the customer feel less like a number and more like a human being.
The successful restauranteurs always took service one step further towards "care" because they understood restaurant customer service literally involves the immediate health of the patron-- more so than any other industry (except for healthcare industry itself). A recent survey asked diners why they went out to eat and the main response was "to feel good." (After all, the word "restaurant" has French origins meaning "to restore"). As a waiter for many years, I felt my job was to restore humanity, especially to diners arriving from a stressed out day.
In my past dining room work experiences, I remember certain actions lifting service to this higher level of "care." One time a customer requested margarine that wasn't available in the restaurant. The owner walked across the street to the grocery purchased the margarine and brought it tableside. The patron was delighted. There was a regular customer (diabetic) who always got immediate attention with some kind of bread or crackers to keep from feeling feint before her food arrived. If there was a baby present at a table, our staff ensured their food would come out as soon as possible to pacify. These kinds of actions create a lasting positive image for any company or establishment. The owner cared about his guests and it permeated thru the dining room and staff -- even after he left to open other restaurants for the company.
Exceptional Customer Service - that which leads to a level of "care" - involves major 3 points:
1) Care and Concern for the Customer
2) Spontaneity and Flexibility of frontline workers, which enhances the ability for on-the-spot problem-solving.
3) Recovery: Making things right with the customer when the process has gone astray.
These 3 points should always be highlighted in any customer service training program. If they are kept in mind, then customer care will occur.
Richard Saporito is the President of Topserve, Inc., a restaurant and server training company. He's worked in over 25 different New York City restaurants since he was 15 years old. Richard treats customer service like an intricately studied science. He believes that customer service is a crucial part of our culture, economy, and future, yet it is too often misunderstood for all the inherent intangibles. The goal of Topserve is to make customer service tangible for you and your staff. You can reach Topserve at:www.topserve consulting.com