After a very long work day, I decided to treat my staff to a late, light dinner. Quickly seated in the concept style, family/bar restaurant, we were each handed a great big menu that also included a huge promo page insert with a giant glossy photo of their current special; The Black Bun Burger. The burger was very different looking, to say the least, and it drew an assortment of reactions from those at the table. “That looks disgusting”, said one, “I dunno, I think it looks kinda’ cool”, said another. My Manager of Operations sitting next to me asked, “What do you think makes the bun black?” Being a bit of a ‘foodie’ myself, I do know that squid ink is often used to create black pasta and rice. However, knowing where we were, I told her that I doubted this restaurant chain would use squid ink, as it is considered a delicacy and would be quite cost prohibitive.
Soon, that topic of conversation died down and moved to other things like; “Where’s our server?” as we’d been sitting there for quite a while. Finally, a young, boppy little thing came to our table and asked if we’d like to order. “Sure”, I said, “but first I have a question regarding the Black Bun Burger. What makes the bun black?” She gave a little giggle, looked at me and said; “I don’t know”. She then went straight to taking our orders and quickly zipped away. My Manager of Operations leaned over to me and quietly asked, “Do you think she’s going to find out?” I told her I didn’t think so.
The sight of the Black Bun Burger had certainly generated some conversation, but this little exchange really got the chatter going at our table. You see, the very long workday that we had just completed was the first day of our customer service training and consulting organization’s annual Customer Service Conference; 2 full days, jam packed with presentations delivered by a variety of industry professionals and thought leaders from well-known organizations across the country discussing all things customer service. (Poor thing – she had no idea).
Everyone knows how important good customer service is and it seems that every company these days boasts about their customer-centricity and focus on service. But when it comes to delivering good customer service, companies and employees have to be able to do more than just scratch the good service surface. In a restaurant for example, if a guest has a question about a menu item, they should be able to expect an answer either right away or at the very least, as soon as the server can find out. All of us at the table found it truly surprising that our server didn’t know the answer to what we thought would have been a pretty common question, that she lacked product knowledge about an advertised promotional item and that she didn’t even bother to find out the answer. Cute and boppy as she was, not knowing this information was a big CS misstep. And it wasn’t her fault, and I and my whole team knew it.
We knew that the responsibility falls solely on the restaurant chain. It’s very easy to tell your employees to smile and be friendly and deliver ‘good customer service’, but consumers are smart – each one of us is a consumer and we’ve all become savvy enough to know the difference between gloss and the real thing. Companies who equip their employees with the knowledge and tools that allows them to provide authentic, informed service will rise above their competition. Those who don’t will falter. Statistics show that 59% of consumers would try a new brand or company for a better experience and 7 out of 10 of us would be willing to spend more with a company that we believe will provide excellent customer service.
Good customer service begins with good employee training. Not the kind of training where employees learn their spiel from a canned script making sure to insert customer’s name here a minimum of three times during the conversation, but the kind of training that allows employees to feel confident in their roles where they have the knowledge and understanding of what good service truly is as well as the insight and awareness of how to deliver it.
Our cute, boppy server was lovely yet poorly trained. She did her job based on what she knew, so in the end, still got a good tip, even though we never did find out what makes the bun black.
Do you know what makes the bun black? Tell me - I’m dying to know.
Dolly Konzelmann is the President of Cutting Edjj Consulting (CEC) and The Customer Service Professionals Network (CSPN). With over 20 years in the customer service industry, CEC and CSPN are considered among the most comprehensive consulting, coaching and training companies in Canada and abroad. Providing services to organizations of all sizes and public workshops to individuals, CEC and CSPN use a results-based partnership approach to develop and deliver customized solutions that meet an organization’s unique business needs and resolve their most significant issues, helping them to create a lasting competitive advantage. CEC and CSPN are recognized by the HRPA and RIBO and offer an array of services including training, consulting, assessment, conferences, studies, networking events and accredited designation programs governed by the Canadian Council of Professional Certification.