3 Customer Service Sins in Just 10 Words
I was waiting to get served in the pub yesterday evening – hot day, nice garden, busy bar – and the customer next to me, whose turn it was, asked the bar staff member if she could order some food. She was asked which table number she was sitting at; she said she didn’t know. To which the staff member replied 10 words (I counted them out, and I counted them back): “I can’t put the order through without your table number”.
The 3 sins here are:
- Not saying “Sorry”, which, said meaningfully, should be the first word out of any service-provider’s mouth when they are doing anything other than providing the service requested promptly and fully, entirely regardless of the cause of the difficulty.
- Making your problem the customer’s problem. There’s a pivotal difference between apologising for and explaining why there is an operational deficiency (a good thing to do), and blaming the customer for your lousy system (a terrible thing to do).
- Presenting your customer with an uncharted terrain of challenge without guidance as to how to cross it. Only the problem was presented, not the solution. That’s often a good approach in sales, but never in customer service.
This staff member was fortunate that the particular customer was at first taken aback, and then meekly compliant. If it had been me, I wouldn’t have been either. I can overdo the sarcasm when it happens to me. I’d have said: “Would you like me to come round there and serve the drinks too, so you can put your feet up?” Or maybe: “Oh. That’s a shame. I’m a bit hungry. Do you know anywhere round here to eat?”