11. July 2012 13:24
Recently my partner and I visited a new restaurant, the Rio Grande in Coral Bay, Cyprus. We had what could have easily been a uniquely bad dining experience turned around purely by great customer engagement when, at times, the customer service wouldn’t have seemed out of place in a Monty Python sketch. It’s a story I want to recount to you…In 36 degrees Celsius heat, with a full restaurant with no air conditioning inside and nowhere outside to sit, we were greeted and shown to a specially created ‘romantic’ table on their balcony. Our drinks were ordered and delivered promptly by a waiter whose exertions running up and down the stairs created ever-swelling rivers of sweat down his shirt. So I’m reading the menu and a beetle bounces onto my arm - no major problem given the warm weather. Fast-forward to our starter course, another beetle bounces onto our table and simultaneously vaults over our shared starter with the grace of a Gold medal contender at this year’s Olympics. It’s closely followed by a peloton of its compatriots for another few minutes until our ever-enthusiastic waiter re-appears. He’s clearly not very surprised or shocked by beetles falling like lemmings from the roof above and we were moved to another table still on our romantic balcony. Problem resolved even if Stavros by this point was wearing more ‘water’ on his shirt than he was carrying in the jug he’d thoughtfully brought up the stairs with him. Our main course arrived and my partner, having ordered a spicy beef enchilada, got a bowl of chilli con carne. We explained it was the wrong meal after much conversation, Stavros disappears and a second waiter appears for a second opinion – no, clearly it didn’t look like a burrito. But Chilli was a better choice in his opinion! Then the manageress appears and after suitably reprimanding Stavros plus much heated debate she agreed to take the offending chilli back to the kitchen but turning away added that Chilli was a better choice and by the way it would be 30 minutes more as the kitchen was very busy! Insulted and embarrassed for Stavros, but equally famished, my partner agreed to eat the chilli and we wished our dining experience to evaporate like the proverbial giant black hole that Stavros was probably wishing would swallow him up on the spot.And now for the start of the recovery… Stavros returned to apologise for the mix up. We’re relaxed and the chilli is actually pretty good as it turns out. But my order is missing the salsa so Stavros’s protégé agrees to fetch it. Long after we’ve finished the course, Stavros sheepishly reappears with said salsa. Cue another round of effuse apologies from Stavros and his colleague. So picture this, the balcony tables are filling and one after another the orders they’ve taken (largely by committing to memory) are baring little resemblance to what is arriving and the restaurant is fast-becoming a scene that only Basil Fawlty could delight in.Cue another Stavros recovery, to make up for the mistakes he asks us if we wanted a free dessert. So I order 3 scoops of ice cream (there were 4 which he reeled off with great difficulty) and much to his credit he delivers all 4 flavours ‘to compensate for getting everything else wrong’. Delivered with a smile I was convinced he couldn't remember which 3 I’d ordered. But this is the key – throughout our dining experience, though almost everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong, Stavros remained totally engaged with us, his customers. And to cap it off, he brought us our favourite after dinner drinks ‘on the house’ before proceeding to give us a restaurant card with a handwritten discount for the next time we visited or wanted to try their sister restaurant.So here’s the moral of the story, even if the food order is hopelessly wrong, even if the restaurant conditions are unbearable and the ambiance is invaded by unpleasant objects, even if arguments break out … if you consistently and positively engage your customers they’ll remember your great customer service in a way they want to tell the world about you - instead of Faulty Towers!
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21. September 2011 16:44
Both before and after they subscribe to SurveyMe clients commonly ask us questions about using customer satisfaction surveys. Usually these are something like …1. Who should I survey for their opinion?2. Why should I survey my customers? 3. What questions should I ask my customers?4. When should I ask customers for feedback?5. Where should I ask for feedback?6. How should I ask for feedback?7. How often should I ask people for feedback?Generally, effective customer satisfaction surveys should focus on measuring customer perceptions of how well you, as an organisation, deliver the critical success factors that your customers (and prospective customers) value most about doing business with you.
Typically, these will include things like service promptness, staff responsiveness, the business environment, products, pricing, all under the umbrella of understanding your customer’s needs. It is perhaps therefore your first starting point in creating an on-going customer feedback survey program to ask your customers to rate what factors they most and least value about doing business with you – you may be surprised!Once you have established the initial scope and thought about the results you got, then its time to consider questions that will make your customer survey and feedback programme the most effective you can for your organisation. Each week, I will blog some thoughts and tips about each of the most common questionswe get asked to help you optimise customer satisfaction or feedback surveys. Having said all this, for me the single most critical factor about employing customer satisfaction surveys as a tool to improve your business is not what you learn but what you do with that knowledge.
Once you know what your customers want don't make the mistake of ignoring their wishes. Remember your customers "vote with their feet" - so inaction is no longer an option! Imagine the frustration of taking the time to help you and answer your customer survey, and then noticing absolutely no change. A customer service survey may increase customer satisfaction, but only if things change!
So make a plan to build on what your customers perceive as your strengths, and correct any faults they tell you about. And when you’ve finished your plan... show your customers that you’ve heard them!