Guest Service

5 06 2009

In all of my years working in various customer service environments I have learned several important skills and life lesson, but the thing I remember most is that the customer is NOT always right. This may be counter-intuitive to everything customer service stands for, but it is imperative that service industry employees remember this point. Why? Because, customers will bleed your company dry if you follow the old “customer is always right” theory. It is just human nature to want to get all you can for your dollar or the most out of any experience and every time someone walks into your restaurant, salon, retail store or office this is what they are thinking. So you and your employees have to be able to say “NO” sometimes and must be able to draw the line. Of course, you and your employees have to understand how to go about denying a client or customer and you have to have a good reason or your business will suffer. Just like anything in life, there has to be a good balance. 

For instance, if a crowd of young adults enter your restaurant at 11 pm and appear to be rowdy or even intoxicated, a manager should take note of this and make a decision as to whether or not he/she wants to serve them. When making the decision the pros and cons must be taken into account. They might settle down and not disturb the other guests, they may spend a lot of money and leave the server a great tip, or they may be difficult, cause a ruckus and be asked to leave without paying, which would be a loss and a waste of the servers time. I would probably choose not to serve these guests, as the risk outweighs the pros. The manager would need to take control of this situation and inform the group politely, so as not to cause a scene, that the restaurant has a policy that prevents them from serving visible intoxicated people. 

On the other hand, people in the service industry must respect their guests and provide them with outstanding service at all times. If something goes wrong during service the company must take responsibility for the mistake (if in fact they are at fault) and compensate the guest accordingly. This is where that balance comes into play. Often, when a mistake occurs during service, the person at fault does not want to admit their mistake and attempts to down play the situation, which only angers the guest. You must train your employees that to understand that it is okay to make a mistake here and there, but it is important to own up to it and make it right in order to keep customers returning. 

People in customer service positions tend to want to please and therefore find this concept of denying a request or flat out saying no to a paying customer very difficult. However, every company has standards, standard procedures and a certain way of doing things that they spent hours creating, revising and perfecting. So, when a customer asks for something that doesn’t fit or is against company policy, they are not within their rights and must be told so. Service as we know it will become extinct if companies allow customers to do whatever they want. We can’t let clients run our businesses and we have to learn to be weary of our customers, their behavior and  requests as well as train our employees to recognize situations that require a managers assistance. 

Chelsea

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