Everyone likes to receive good customer service. And we can all probably recall times that we received customer service that was extraordinary. Here are a few tips to increase your odds of getting customer service that surpasses ordinary:
- You set the tone. Your attitude sets the tone for the quality of the customer service you will receive. When you are greeted with a grunt (or worse) from a surly teenager manning the counter, how do you respond? Yes, the kid needs to learn some respect but the odds that you may be able to impart that lesson by lecturing him? Nil. As any parent knows, the best teaching occurs by example. Always treat others as you would like to be treated, especially when you are not being treated well.
- Be clear about your expectations. No one can read your mind. You need to communicate what you need and when so that the person serving you can deliver. Whether this means that you need a meal quickly in time to drive to the airport or card stock delivered by a certain date, the person providing the service needs to have a clear understanding of your expectations. Sometimes a customer can be so engrossed in a project that he forgets others do not have the same working knowledge of the project that he does; communicate your expectations in a clear and concise manner from the start.
- Don't take mistakes personally. Mistakes happen. You'll order your fried rice without tomatoes or your pizza crust extra crispy, and the server will mess up your order. Don't sweat the small stuff. Even if a waiter spills hot coffee on your brand new Armani suit, it is not because he doesn't like the suit......it's because he tripped. Unpleasant things occur not because your server does not respect you or wasn't listening or has other bad qualities........but because we're all slouching towards Bethlehem one soggy pizza crust at a time.
- Speak up if something goes wrong. If things are not going as you expected, let the appropriate person know. Sometimes people wait too long to address a problem so that by the time they finally do say something, they have built up a degree of anger that is inappropriate to the offense. That's when you'll end up seeming like a jerk for a complaint that (at one point in time, anyway) was legitimate.
- It takes two to tango. A server may well attempt to push your buttons; don't let him. Go over this head, not to try to get him into trouble, but to get what you want. Somewhere within the organization is an individual who recognizes the importance of quality customer service and who will be able to meet your needs; locate him and express your concerns to him in a levelheaded fashion. This course of action is far preferable to getting into a pissing match with a disgruntled employee who might even enjoy displeasing you.
- Never lose your temper or your patience. No one likes to give good service to someone who is condescending, rude, impatient or just downright mean. Even if this type of behavior helps you to get your way in the moment, it works against you in the long run.
- Treat your server as an equal. Look him in the eye. Speak to him, not at him. If you are on a cell phone call, finish the call before expecting to receive help. Hand your money to the server instead of placing it on the counter. Ask your server's name-he has one!-and remember it. Use words like "please" and "thank you." Be genuine, personable and polite. Treat your server as you would like to be treated if you held his position and you will be amazed at the kind of service you receive.
- Treat other customers as equals. Don't cut in line. Wait your turn patiently. Don't give your opinion unless asked. Remember that annoyed customers become the server's problem, too, so do your best to maintain friendly relations with everyone in the immediate vicinity, even if the service is slow, the waiting room is 90 degrees, and you really have to go to the bathroom. C'est la vie.
- Tip well and tip often. If you've ever worked in a service job, you know just how much tipping matters. But if you haven't, take my word for it. Customer service jobs are not easy, nor do they tend to be all that lucrative. By treating people with respect and dignity, you are already a step ahead. If you've been tipping the maitre d' regularly, that table by the window is yours.
Good manners get you not only good customer service but many of the other goodies to be had in this life. To receive good customer service, you must apply your emotional intelligence within the marketplace. Do so and you'll receive quality customer service almost every time.