This piece is the an entry in the "Happy to Help" Series, ongoing articles focused on elevating customer service experiences.
A True Story
The following was shared with me from one of my work associates, Brett:
"My family recently purchased a pizza from a local pizza franchise. We ordered a large pizza and paid for it over the phone. We then left to run some errands, leaving a babysitter at home with our kids. To our dismay, we discovered a medium-sized pizza when we arrived home. In my frustration, I called the business and asked for the manager. The manager explained that they were short on dough and had to make a medium-sized pizza. To correct the problem, the manager said I would have a credit for a large pizza. I asked how I would be able to redeem my credit for the large pizza and the manager said all I would have to do is come in and say my name. I would be on the credit list and I would be able to receive my large pizza. Sometime later, my wife and I remembered that we had a credit for a large pizza at the local store. I got into my car and drove over to the pizza place, walked inside and said, 'My name is Brett and I have a credit here for a large pizza.' The man behind the counter said, 'No credit.'
'What?!?' I thought to myself. I explained to him what had happened earlier regarding the mishap of the medium and the large pizza. He then explained to me that the manager said that, 'they will no longer give credits to anyone.' I explained to him that I was guaranteed my large pizza and all I had to do was come in and give my name, and I would be on the list of people who had a credit for a free pizza. He didn’t say anything, he just stared at me. So, I asked to talk to the manager. He said that HE was the manager and that the franchise had been taken over by new management shortly after my mishap. I explained to him that this is still the same store with the same name on the store. He once again said that no credit would be given. I then asked to talk to the manager above him at which point he said that he was actually the franchise store owner. I had had enough of this clown and said goodbye to him. Why hadn’t he just explained to me that he was the owner in the first place? Rather than letting me pull my hair out trying to get my problem solved."
There are a variety of customer service issues Brett experienced including intentionally being given the wrong size pizza and later not being able to receive what he paid for. We’ll talk more about customer retention and how to fix errors in a later article. What I would like to focus on in this story is how rude the manager/owner was to Brett. He definitely was not happy to help. What he lacked, in a word, was elegance.
Delivering elegantly means that you need to be a genuinely nice person and practice good manners. Be polite and use kind words. Talk to people in a nice way. Do nice things, anticipate needs, and use your manners (yes, I said that twice). Say please, thank you, and you're welcome.
When a customer says, "Thank you," be sure to respond! Obviously, my go-to phrase is, "I'm happy to help!" But I sometimes say, "Thank you." You can say anything like, "You're welcome" or "Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you." It is no accident that when you eat at Chick-fil-A, you will always hear, "My pleasure." It's not like one employee said it and it caught on. It is a deliberately trained habit by people who understand great customer service performance for building relationships.
Don't Do This
Please, please, please don’t use “common” language or slang. Phrases like “No problem,” or, “Anytime,” should be avoided. Your customer may not notice or care if when they say, “Thank you”, you say, “No problem,” but they will always notice when you say, “You’re welcome.”
I mentioned before that one of the issues with fast food is that you are sacrificing good service for fast service times. I have seen cases where employees and even managers became disgruntled with customers who took too long to order. Really, the customer should be allowed to take as long as they need to order, and the staff should be polite throughout the entire transaction.
Yeah, Taco Bell, For Real!
I was especially impressed with a recent transaction I had at Taco Bell (a TACO BELL!!!). When I pulled up to the drive-thru speaker, I was greeted with a friendly, “Hi, how are you doing today?” I was a little shocked at first; I didn’t even know what to say. When I worked at Wendy’s in high school, one of the cashiers who had to take orders through the drive-thru would just say, “What can I get for you?” as fast as possible, when cars arrived at the speaker. In his mind, it took too long to say, “Thank you for choosing Wendy’s” or, “Hello. What can I make for you today?” In his defense, the idea that those phrases took too long to say was supported by management.
So, I was at the speaker at Taco Bell, and after getting over my shock, finally responded, “I’m doing well. How are you doing?” Amazingly, the voice at the other end of the speaker said, “It’s been a good day. I can’t complain. The weather has been nice lately, and I’m really enjoying the warmer temperatures.” In case you’ve forgotten, this is over the speaker at a Taco Bell, during lunch hour!
We ended our small talk and he politely, in a non-rushed voice asked, “What can I make for you today?” He took my order, and it was made to perfection. The most joyful part of the experience was the polite, friendly, and dare I say, elegant, attitude of the cashier. In subsequent visits to other locations, I noticed that it was happening there as well. I asked one of the cashiers how long their transactions were supposed to be. She told me two minutes. That’s thirty seconds longer than Wendy’s. Imagine how valuable thirty extra seconds would be to Discover your customer’s needs and Deliver them elegantly.
More About Service Than Product
Delivering elegantly is just one of many ways that you can build strong bonds with your customers. According to Janelle Barlow and Dianna Maul,
"Only fourteen percent of customers who switch providers do it because they are unhappy with the quality of the product—most make the move because they were dissatisfied with the service they’d received."
Now that you understand the need to Deliver exactly as your customer requested while Delivering elegantly, you are ready to learn about Delivering energetically.