As an antidote to my slightly negative last post, this entry is intended to highlight some examples of great customer service, experienced recently and filling me with hope…
The lovely people at John Lewis are a fantastic place to start. I don’t know if its just the sort of people who associate themselves with the John Lewis brand and therefore want to work there, or the fact that every employee owns shares in the company (and therefore has a vested interest in the success of it), but the service there is truly excellent.
When my parents recently ordered a sofa for their new house, delivery took far longer than anticipated. This left them, rather obviously, with nowhere to sit. So, by way of apology for the delay, John Lewis offered them a “stand-in” leather suite while they waited, free of charge. Not every company can afford to be so generous, but it is something to bear in mind – what problem does your product solve for the customer? If it is not solving it very well, how can your company solve it (better, or in the meantime)?
It is providing excellent PR, as my parents are telling all their friends the story – usually when they compliment the nice leather suite which my parents are not keeping!
Another nice thing to see is a bit of up-close, personal, engaging (and charitable) salesmanship. I was fortunate to be at networking/charity event recently and there was a great demonstration provided by the lady at Temper Chocolates, who makes the best hot chocolate in Glasgow (and it has been said by others.) The demonstration and information was given informally and warmly, and that personal touch is what will make people want to support this business and give it custom. (Along with the other stalls, she also donated some of the profits to the charity of the night, Women’s Refuge in East Dunbartonshire. How nice.)
Another company with a stall at the event was Sparkle Candy jewellery, who again had the opportunity to give their business a “face” and encourage people to support it. I did. I bought some lovely pieces from their website after being handed a flyer offering free delivery – these little pushes do work when you are already engaged with the company! I received real emails from real people during the purchasing process (which may need to be ironed out a little), and this definitely enhanced my overall opinion of small, successful, growing, local and generally nice company.
Last but not least, Sloans in Glasgow had the opportunity to show their “crisis-management” customer service skills when I was there recently. Although we booked a booth, my friends and I were shown to a long table. We pointed out that we had booked a more relaxed space in the bar, as some of the party weren’t eating dinner, and we didn’t wish to take up room in the restaurant area needlessly. The lady who had taken the booking apologised, accepted she was to blame, and said we were of course free to order as much or as little food as we wanted to at our dining table. We also received table service for our drinks all night, which was a bonus.
Clever staff and clever businesses turn these slight disappointments and mix-ups into positive experiences, by taking on responsibility and fully assessing what can be done to create very happy customers.
At the moment, then, my view of good service seems to hinge on personal touches and the seizing of opportunities to generate not just one happy customer, but repeat custom and great PR. Keep it up Glasgow!