anger, Food, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Whatever

Curry and customer services.

I work at the sharp end of customer services. I spend my days thanking people for something. Often apologising for the lateness of something, whether its the delay for an appointment, a letter being held up, or more often than not a professional who is running late, because of the complexities of the job. I’m used to juggling things, and over the years I’ve honed the skills to avoid dropping those balls I’m furiously keeping in the air!  So I know what you need to be a good customer service provider.

Above all you need to be attentive to the people who are your customers, and you need to keep your eye on all those balls your juggling. You also need to make sure your team are well trained, and you have rigorous Standard Operating Procedures . That way everyone is clear of their expectations and your not let down by someone who doesn’t understand what is expected of them.

Let me tell you what happened last night. I went out for dinner with my husband who insisted that as it was his birthday we go out for a curry. Great I thought, we both love curry, and had been to the restaurant before, so knew what to expect.

We ordered a drink which arrived promptly. And I asked for some poppadum’s to keep us going (which actually never arrived). We ordered our meal. A starter to share. My husband ordering two 1/2 portions of something hot and tasty, while I had a rice dish, and some nan bread between us. She asked if we wanted rice, I said no, my hubby would have some of mine, as he only ever eats a small amount of rice. She went away, and we waited for out meal. The surrounding were calm and quite. The restaurant wasn’t 1/4 filled, and there were ample serving staff. I’m setting the scene, as its often the busy times and staff shortages that cause the most problems, believe me!

It never occurred to me that she didn’t get the order right. It also didn’t occur to me that she hadn’t read the order back to us to confirm she had understood what we had asked for.

The food arrived, and it was wrong. She had completely got my food order wrong. Instead of a biryani – a rice dish, it was a vegetable bhuna – a very different dish altogether. So she took it away. But  after 5 minutes I had to go and ask for them to take my husbands food away too, so it could come back out with mine. I wanted to eat with him, not have his food sitting getting cold on the table!

One of the waiters came and apologised, and offered us a drink as a token. We thanked him, and we would have a coffee or another beer after the meal. 5 min later two more beers arrived.

The main meals came back as ordered, together with a fresh nan bread.  Each person who served us apologies for the error, so it felt like the whole team has been involved in the disaster!  If only she had read the order back to us in the first place, it wouldn’t have happened, they wouldn’t have lost at least  £40 in free beers, replaced foods, loss of tips (sorry I couldn’t bring myself to leave anything) and a cancelled booking for later on in the week!

Is it any wonder the high streets are suffering? Restaurant chains are cutting back and  shutting branches. They now have to be on the top of their game to entice people to spend their hard earned cash in them.  They need to get it right, or loose profit and customers.



real life, Whatever

Work Etiquette or ‘how not to annoy your customers’

Customer service training is great, don’t you think? It reminds you of the things you should be doing on days when you are thoroughly fed up with just that….customers. Come on, seriously – how often would you like to start your conversation off with the word ‘LOOK’ or  ‘do you realise how annoying you are’. But we simply can’t can we? Remember – however fed up you are – these poor customers on the end of the phone, or sitting in front of you – their day may have been even worse than yours. They can hear what kind of day you are having by the tone of your voice and how fed up you are. Have you ever answered a phone call with a smile? Sounds corny doesn’t it but try it tomorrow. It seriously works and has a knock on effect,  they feel happier that you haven’t sounded grumpy on the phone. You in turn are dealing with someone who’s back isn’t up immediately.

A few years ago, the organisation I work for decided that to become more efficient and business like we should all answer the phone the same way. Company name, salutation, your name, how can I help you. Bit of a mouth full. But it has been proven that callers don’t listen to the first part of the phone call. They know who they are calling, they know if its afternoon or morning – they hear your name, and the offer of help. It always amazes me that at the end of a conversation with someone they often say, ‘thank you Pat’ – it takes me aback – they did hear my name when I answered the phone! It does work. And if you are all answering the phone in the same way – none of you will sound stupid – I know that’s what you were thinking!

This sounds like I am so righteous doesn’t it, never on my phone in work, never texting my mates, never fooling and laughing around, and having a joke. Well let me put this another way.

Its a busy Thursday lunchtime. You have 30 min to go and pick a present up for a friends birthday, and get back to the office again.  The shop assistant is busy chatting when you get into the shop and doesn’t see you or acknowledge you. You can’t find what you are looking for, you know that little specific item that will make your friend smile when they see it. After 5 min you still cant see what you want, and when you try and catch the attention of the sales assistant – they huff and puff, and don’t make much of an effort to help you find the elusive gift. Walk out of the shop- just do it! Go into the shop where you know the sales assistants appear happy, they greet you with a smile, and offer to help you with your search. You leave happy and content, they know they have helped you, and your friend is so pleased with their gift!  I hate shops where they chat to one another at the expense of customers. I’m the one walking out the door into your competitor shop down the road!

Don’t get me started on Social Media – it does what it says on the tin- SOCIAL MEDIA – not work media. Do it in your own time – not mine!  I work for an organisation that is funded by the tax payer – so I pay my own wages in effect. I will not allow myself to spend time on my phone during the time I’m paying me to work!

All life is a fish bowl. And work is no exception. In fact work is more of a fish tank than a fish bowl, everyone sees what you do, and how you do or don’t do it! So if you follow some simple rules, your customers will hopefully remain your customers, and not go somewhere else, and fill one of those ‘how did we do today’ forms in with some positive comments for you.