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The world of customer service never ceases to amaze me. Especially in these tough times where many are crying the blues about business being soft and how every nano ounce of positive word of mouth is like found gold.

In the last two weeks, two established businesses that should know better provided these less than loyalty building and brand securing experiences.

(First story) I pull up to one of my favorite restaurants. It’s raining like all crazy. The establishment has valet parking. This seems like a solution to get me to my meeting in a dry, fashionable way. On sunny days, the location to drop your car off is not the closest point to the door, but, when the weather’s nice that’s OK. The weather was not nice. A torrential down pour would be a kind understatement. So what does this tip-compensated valet do? Waves me to the far, far away, no umbrella covered drop off point, across the street. I couldn’t believe it. I roll down my window, get soaked with a flood of gigantic rain drops and scream, “It’s raining!!!! Can I not park closer to the door?”

Finally, after a female attendant explains to him how it may be OK to flex the rules today, I got permission to be closer to the door.

Granted, the valet parkers had a system established and this act of keeping the customer dry would require a little extra common sense thinking.

Systems and procedures are great, but when adhering to them delivers a lousy, make-up running, wet tee shirt style, business meeting experience. STOP!

For memorable customer experiences, be flexible and empower staff to adjust to the situation. And make sure outsourced touch points like the valet service is committed to the same level of service as you are.

(Second story) I’m meeting friends at bar for drinks and appetizers. There are four of us and we are one chair short. There is an empty chair about three feet from us at the main bar. My girlfriend Patty grabs the chair, so we can start spending our money, stimulating the economy and enjoying the night out. Then comes a loud bark from the bartender, “You can’t take that chair. It belongs to the bar.”

We were shocked to hear that anti customer-friendly experience, yelling conviction from the restaurant staffer. Since when do you walk into an establishment where sections of the place are competing and not working together to deliver a holistic brand experience? After a brief discussion with the manger, the chair was ours and so was that bad taste in our mouth about this restaurant.

Performance and staff production is great, but when such a competitive mind-set culture delivers an uncomfortable confrontation and divided service experience with your paying customer. STOP!

For loyalty building customer experiences, be flexible and empower staff to adjust to the situation.