Why Customer Service Should Be Your Top Priority

Imagine this: You walk into a café in a good mood, ready to work. You set your things down in a nice corner with an outlet for your devices and you go to the counter to order something to eat and drink.

Everything is fine. The line is moving along, and the sound of various conversations fill the air around you. It’s a perfect morning to buckle down and get some work done. When you hear the lady behind the counter say that she can help you, you step up and smile.

“Good Morning,” You say.

“What am I doing for you?” She responds, obviously irritated.

You’re taken back but give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s just had a rough morning. You order your food and coffee and move out of the line. It was a rough start, but you’re still feeling productive. The sounds of the café fill your ears again as the memory of the rude barista falls to the back of your mind.

Now you’re sitting, working on something small until your food arrives. A waiter brings it out and sets it down. You say thank you, but he’s gone without another word. That’s fine, you’re working anyway, he probably didn’t want to disturb you.

You take a bite. Somethings not right. You take another. Hmm, you’ve been to this café several times and have ordered the same thing each time. This is definitely missing a key ingredient. Then you realize you still haven’t gotten your coffee.

Now you’re starting to get annoyed. You take your plate up to the counter “I’m sorry to bother, but this is missing something, and I haven’t gotten my coffee yet.”

The rude barista looks at your plate, “But that’s what you ordered.”

Now you stare blankly at her, “I know. It was made incorrectly.”

She takes the plate from you and sends it back without another word. When she comes back, she won’t look at you.

“Excuse me?” You say, now beyond annoyed. “I haven’t gotten my coffee yet.”

“Fine. It’ll be right out.” She says dismissively without looking up.

Now, you’re angry and don’t want to be there anymore. You demand a refund and leave the café, swearing that you’d never return because of the service.

Unfortunately, this experience isn’t an uncommon one, and too many businesses seem to forget that their source of income is supplied directly from their customers and clients. If you are a small business owner, always make sure your priority are the people who buy your products or pay for your services, otherwise, you’d have no business.

Obviously, management can’t control how a barista or server acts when they’re not around, and that’s understandable, but if the management is playing for customer service, then they should set up the recourses and teach the things an employee might need to handle a rough situation.

Do this by including a “scenario wheel” in a new hirers training, where you create a scenario (or use real-life examples) to which the hire should respond in the best way possible to de-escalate the situation.

For example, ask your new hire how they would respond if a customer comes up complaining that his food didn’t taste right, and the barista forgot his coffee.

If their answer is what you’re looking for, great! You can move on to the next scenario. If not, you could take this moment to coach them during training rather than when you see the issue later.

Another helpful resource could be little charts that management puts up near a register or phone that help guide an employee to the right action to fix something

IssueHow to respondFollow through
Customer is
with a
Apologize.Ask what’s wrong.
Offer to remake it or give a refund/store credit.
If remade, make sure the
problem has been resolved.
If issued a refund or store credit, tell them to have a nice day.
Customer is angry about bad serviceApologize.
Listen to the complaint (make them feel validated).
Ensure that you’ll talk to management about the issue.
If they’re still incredibly upset, offer their product for free or give a store credit.

The goal is just to make sure that your customers will come back a second time and have a good experience, even though they had a bad one before. Doing these things might help you get a few customers back, but chances are that if they’re satisfied about how the situation was resolved, they’ll also leave a glowing customer service review on Yelp or Google about it (another way to draw customers in).

At the end of the day, a business needs money to thrive, and customers have the money. If you take care of your customers, chances are you won’t have to worry about it for very long.