A while back I was having trouble with consistent (and even friendly) service at a business I frequent often. This went on for years. It was always hit and miss whether I went in myself or sent in guests to this business.

Honestly, I’m telling you, I’ve had downright rude service at this place. No smiles, “I’m busy” no eye-contact behavior while standing at the counter waiting to check out, and the coup de gras was a “the grille is closed” comment when I walked in with two business leaders for dinner while we were just looking at the menu (we were at the place 25 minutes prior to closing, the person didn’t know if we were even wanting something from the grille, AND should have first said, “hello” or something). I tried engaging the manager with offers to join a business book club, a networking group, we met to facilitate working together and collaborate about business/hiring/etc., and I even had direct conversations about inconsistent service.

Finally, after a comment from a client I’d sent there for lunch who was not impressed with the service and told me so, I asked to meet the manager again, in person. I thought and thought about how to broach this touchy subject so it wouldn’t be offensive or combative. My sincere desire was to cooperate with this place in order to work together to serve our customers together.

When I met with the manager I got the curt response of I think we do a great job at customer service.

Reality check:
Not so much.

  1. Leave the Ego at the Door
    As business owners it’s difficult and sometimes downright irritating to have people suggest the “next best thing”, or, my personal favorite, “you know, you should . . .”. Not sure why, but that last comment always got my hackles up. Truth be told we need to listen. Many times our customers are coming from a place of sincerity and honestly want to help. Our job is not to explain to them why we cannot implement their bright idea but instead to simply validate them.
    This is good customer service – making someone feel valued.
    My “hackles up” response is a cue for me to take a good look at the suggestion. There’s a saying that ‘if you get mad at the comment, then most likely there’s truth to that comment’.
    Here is my plan:
    * Bite my Tongue
    * Smile and nod or say something like, “that’s interesting”.
    * Stew Privately
    * Cool Off
    * Look at the suggestion for validity.
  2. Look Inward or Feed the Mouth
    Maybe you move through or even skip some of my steps above. Kudos to you! Shoot me some of that mojo please. The important thing is to step back and look at the suggestion for validity. If it’s not do-able with your business, then a simple “that’s interesting” comment followed by shoving a warm cookie in their mouth will make all involved very happy. If their suggestion points to some part of your business that could use some tinkering, then put on those big girl panties and get to it.
    After all, it’s
    your business,
    your passion,
    your growth opportunity.

Do you have a story to share where a comment/suggestion really frosted your tonsils but in the end benefited your business? If so, we’d love to hear it!

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