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Treasure Employees Who Take It Personally

Talk about a business, any kind of business, and we talk about customer service. So much discussion has been made on the topic of customer satisfaction, but we can never really say we’ve had enough. As one successful restaurant executive once said, “We can never get enough customer service.” There’s no such thing as too much customer satisfaction.

I chanced upon an article that’s worth talking about, written on an offshore setting for a non-American audience. But I guess the principle remains the same.

The author once dined in a posh restaurant with his wife. After their meal, his wife requested for a cup of hot chocolate. The order was apparently not a frequent request at the place, but a cup of hot chocolate was properly served. They both looked at the hot chocolate and thought: …nothing special. A rather dreary and uninteresting offering from a dining place that maintains a supposedly high standard. He then called the manager in his opulent restaurant uniform and told him so.

Quite an uninteresting story to tell, really. But the manager’s reaction to the rather trivial complaint was what made the story interesting.

His face fell, almost as if the author just whacked him. He gaped at the cup of chocolate in embarrassment. When he finally spoke, he apologized copiously. The author was somewhat shocked, nearly wishing that he had not complained about something so insignificant.

He thought that the chocolate was completely acceptable, after all. It just didn’t have a “wow” effect.

A few weeks later the author and his wife came back to the restaurant, the matter completely forgotten. When they finished with their meal, the restaurant manager, in his restaurant uniform, came to their table and asked the wife if she would want to have a cup of hot chocolate again.

And there they served a delightful beverage in a quite ostentatious cup, the froth whipped skillfully and lavishly, with homemade chocolate flakes as garnish. They were then serving, in effect, a beverage item befitting the quality of their restaurant.

To quote the author, Sunny Bindra, “and that, my friends, is what we call a wow experience.”

The wow effect, he said, borders on the biggest or the most trivial of things, but it needs a lone driving force for it: somebody who cares and gives a damn.

The restaurant manager undoubtedly gave a damn, and he is the propelling strength who sets the tone and standard of his establishment. The reason why the restaurant succeeds is that it is managed by somebody who takes the subject of standards very, very, personally. He said sorry when the customers reacted and improved things – fast, and expansively.

Taking things personally is what customer satisfaction is all about, not from eminent systems, procedures or processes – but from the few people who actually care about the customers and the company. It is people like these that we need to find for our teams, those who silently but tenaciously maintain the company’s standards, because it matters to them. They don’t have to be rigidly trained, brainwashed or conditioned—they, at the onset, come with the right array of attitudes.

Those who laugh off or ignore complaints, those who avoid taking action and look for someone else to blame, and those who think that the business is not theirs to deal with are probably not worth the while.