I walked into a restaurant, the type with crisp white tablecloths and napkins, and along with the menu the waiter brought the wine list.
Not seeing anything special or even tasty, I asked: “What’s the House wine?"
“These are our wines, " he replied, pointing to the wine list in my hands.
“I know, but do you have a House wine?" I repeated, hoping he would get it the second time.
Seeing his perplexed look, I tried to ask the question another way.
“If someone comes in and asks for a glass of Cabernet, which wine will you pour?"
“A Cabernet, " he answered, not at all getting my drift, but growing visibly irritated with my questions.
“I’ll tell you what, " I said with resignation, “Bring me an iced tea, please. "
In a huff, he rumbled off.
On my way to wash my hands I saw a waitress, and I decided to ask her the same question.
“Pardon me, but if I asked you ‘What’s the House wine?’ would you know what I’m talking about?"
“I don’t know, but I’ll be happy to find out, " she replied with a smile.
Now, that’s a better answer.
Anyway, all of this banter bothered me and I was quickly losing my appetite. Also, I didn’t want to continue with the original waiter so I asked the host if I could substitute another one. I explained the first guy and I were having a communication problem and I doubted he would get my order right.
“Uh, I don’t know" he responded weakly. “I’ll have to ask the manager. "
Returning to my table the original waiter defensively said, “Yes, you can have a waiter who speaks English, " and then he stormed off.
That did it.
It was time to leave.
Before I did, I said to him in his native language, with a flawless accent and perfect vocabulary and syntax that I could ask the very same question in ANY language about House wines and still, he wouldn’t be able to answer it.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years in that restaurant, and in a matter of five minutes our relationship was destroyed.
I won’t go back.
Customer service isn’t a frill, an extra bonus that we decide to give, like a gift, to patrons.
It is the business we’re in, no matter what our business happens to be.
Train your people, and then monitor, measure, and actively manage them.
If you don’t, the good will that has been developed over a decade or more can be thrown away, and with it, the future of your enterprise.
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 800 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered a foremost expert in telephone effectiveness, customer service, and sales development. A top-rated speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: email@example.com .