The Personal Touch
From Twist on Apr 09, 2013
The Importance of Customer Service
A few weekends ago I was invited to a 1st birthday party at the new All Star Lanes in Manchester. Within minutes of arriving, the supervisor was trying to build an improvised soft area where the toddlers could play safely out of cushioned stools, while chatting to the parents, enthusiastically and smoothly making them feel at home. At the same time, I’d struck up a conversation with the bartender about the bourbons they had in stock - it’s an amazing collection! When he discovered I had an interest he led me out back to inspect some more very special bottles. He introduced me to the other bar staff and generally made me feel welcome. And all this before anyone had ordered a drink.
What impressed me most about this experience was that every guest in the building was being treated as if they were the most important customer in the world. No-one was being neglected. It was a great environment to be in and I know each and every one of us will be going back. Now, it’s not always possible to spend this much time with each guest, but that doesn’t mean service should be compromised.
In fact, sometimes the little touches mean as much as the big sweeping gestures. A bartender recalling your favourite drink or the waiter remembering where you like to sit.
An awareness that you want a bit of peace and quiet can be just as welcome as some friendly banter. In fact, I think “awareness” is the single most important quality in front-facing staff. You could be served by the friendliest person in the world, but if you can’t make eye contact when you need something then you will quickly become frustrated.
Offering brilliant customer service is easy when things are going well, but it’s particularly impressive when something has gone wrong. By going out of their way to fix a complaint, staff can impress the customer so much that the original problem is forgotten and all they talk about is the great service!
Great bars like London’s Callooh Callay, 69 Colebrooke Row&London Cocktail Club understand their customers well. You always see the same faces there - their staff clearly love their job, their managers encourage and inspire them, and this all feeds down to create an awesome atmosphere with happy and loyal customers.
Technology allows us to automate almost anything these days, however, I believe there will always be a place for the personal touch. I buy books from Amazon, but only when I’m looking for something particular. The personal service at my favourite bookshop Daunt Books is far superior. They make excellent recommendations based not on any computer algorithm but because they interact with their customers. Just because I bought a cookbook previously it doesn’t mean Ionly read cookbooks. Similarly, I want my clients to know that they’ll always be able to call up and make unusual requests. We understand that not all events are the same and we’ll take personal responsibility for putting the right person on the job. If something goes wrong, we’ll work our hardest to fix it. We take every event very personally - and I don’t think there’s an app for that (yet!).