Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

Can great customer service be up to the customer?

October 14, 2013

Grumpy customer

Table of Death” was the expression he used ..

I had the most interesting conversation with an experienced restaurateur yesterday – our conversations are refreshing as he always has a different way of looking  at things.

Yesterday we were chatting about the importance of great customer service and how now, more than ever, it needs to tip top as the decisions about how someone spends their disposable income are much bigger than before.

He gave me an interesting perspective about how the customer can play a huge role in the service they experience.

In particular he spoke about the “Table of Death”, which is an expression his team uses when they spot a bunch of customers who just should not be on a night out. They arrive grumpy, every interaction with the service staff is curt and unpleasant and their whole demeanour is negative.

The staff pick up on this immediately and tense up and then as sure as night follows day “Murphy’s Law” kicks in – that will be the table where something gets spilled, someone gets bumped into, something gets overcooked and there will always be something wrong with the bill.

The tension that is created by the negative vibe of that group of customer’s just infects everything and everyone they touch – a good night guaranteed!

He reckons they get at least one group like that every second night and they can spot them nearly the minute they walk in the door.

I notice myself that the pleasant client will get more from our team. The really mannerly and appreciative client will get somersaults from our guys. When you hear our team saying “I love working on that account” or “they are my favourite client” you know that client will get the very best from us and will enjoy the best results from their investment.

For some reason some people have decided that the best approach to business is by being “nasty” – it might make people jump but it will never get the best from them.

Next time you go for a meal ask the waiting staff how their day was!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are an Irish Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Cork and Dublin

Don’t turn off the music!

July 16, 2012
Restaurant Open

Restaurant Open?

In our businesses we put so much time and effort getting customers in the door that sometimes we forget that the same effort must be put into minding that customer once they are through the door…

Usually I leave it up to my partner Greg Canty to write our blog posts – it’s a running joke now with all of the Fuzion gang, that when Greg makes an observation we say “There’s a blog in that”, but an experience over the weekend prompted me to write about the importance of looking after a customer, once they have made that first big step, coming through the front door.

Shattered tired after driving home from West Cork, via Tipperary and Dublin (don’t ask) we were starving, not having eaten anything since morning.  It was late on a Saturday night, about 10pm, so our options were limited as to where we could get a bite to eat at that hour in Ballincollig where we live.

We opted for the local Thai restaurant, thinking they would surely be open – they were not.  Across the square we saw a restaurant that was open, flashing neon sign screamed it – as did the lit candles and beautiful check table cloths still on the outside tables.  It’s a restaurant that we haven’t been to in years, but it looked welcoming, they were obviously making an effort to attract business, so we went in through the door.

I asked, just to make sure, were they still open.  The body language of the waitress, stated that they very much weren’t and it didn’t help when she answered my question with a question – “What for?”.

We were going to leave it at that and as we were backing out of the restaurant  the owner, who was outside, followed us in and said they were very much open.

The restaurant had an inviting section with subdued lighting and lit candles but we were shown to a table in a brightly lit section and the waitress said she would check if they could put the ovens back on again.  We felt uncomfortable, we knew we had made a mistake, but we were hungry.  We ordered two starters and decided to share a pizza (well that would justify them turning on the ovens we thought!!)

Romantic Dinner for two

Could have been different

Half way through our starter, they started to clean the floor and the music was turned off.  Amidst the smell of bleach and the eerie quietness without the music, I got a brainwave.  We had candles waiting to be lit in our cosy dining room, an iPod with over 10,000 songs on it and a poor neglected dog that we hadn’t seen all day – why not just get the Pizza to go when we had finished our starter.

I communicated my idea to the waitress; she said there was no problem with us finishing our meal.  She was really nice about it and encouraged us to stay, but you know what – the damage was done.

The pizza was lovely, we might even get another one as a take-away some time, but we will never eat in this restaurant again.  It’s a shame because they did have all the right ingredients to have us returning as loyal customers, but they didn’t take the opportunity to continue to promote themselves to us when we got inside the door.

This was a genuine lost opportunity for the restaurant – they had it all worked out how to get people in the door, just forgot to look after new customers once they got them through the door.   And if you know Greg at all, he would have tweeted it out big time (he can’t help himself…..).

So don’t turn off the music when a customer “walks” in – show them that the welcome continues past the door, give them an experience that delivers on promises and ensures that they come back again and again .. we would have.

Deirdre Waldron is a partner of Fuzion

Twitter and the New Car!

January 16, 2012
Car Salesman
At least this guy was making an effort!

My meeting had gone well, I was in a really positive frame of mind so I decided I would take the first step towards possibly ordering a new car for the start of 2012.

On the way back from my meeting I popped into a car showroom just to get a feel for the prices of the new cars, the second hand cars and of course what I would manage to get as a trade in for the Santa Fe that had served us well since the beginning of 2007 despite the high mileage.

I first spent some time looking at the “premium collection” parked outside, the collection of two and three year old cars all in great condition. Hmmm … not bad at all!

I then dared to venture into the showroom to look at the new models and I must admit feeling excited about the thought of being able to drive one of these beauties at the start of 2012. I was waiting for the approach from the salesman to start a possible conversation that could have resulted in a sale – a few of them were busy at their desks, a few walked past me with folders and a few were chatting to other possible customers.

I looked, I waited, I looked again and I must admit after a while that I was feeling a little deflated as car salesman after car salesman seemed to decide that I was an unworthy customer – did I look broke, did I look like a “tyre kicker”, did I look like another casual browser who was just going to waste their time? In any event I ended up leaving after about 20 minutes having spoken to no one.

Those who know me quite well will not be surprised that how I was feeling at that moment was shared on Twitter … “I must look like I am broke, the car salesmen didn’t come near me” I tweeted.

Jaguar XF
I know …. isn’t it a beauty!

About 10 minutes later I received a call from a friend of mine who is in the motor trade who had spotted my tweet – he was initially concerned that this could have been his car showroom and that there was some issue with his customer service. I assured him that it wasn’t and that if my route back from my meeting passed his place I would have definitely have called in. Needless to say the conversation came around to me possibly being in the market for a new car..

I collected it beauty on the 5th January, it’s a beauty..

Who said twitter was a waste of time for business ..?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Be nice to the Elderly woman!

November 14, 2011
Pay it forward

It pays to be nice!

This week I heard a really simple story by a guy who was participating in one of our training courses. He supplied corporate and domestic cleaning services and at the early stages of  building his business he was desperately trying to get some custom from the biggest hotel in his town. Despite all attempts he realised that he could not shift the incumbent supplier who the hotel were extremely loyal to so he eventually stopped trying.

Some time later he was asked to clean the carpets in this elderly woman’s house, which he did and at the end of a very long and tiring day he finished the job and packed away all of his cleaning gear. The old woman realised that there was another room upstairs that she had forgotten about and she asked him would he look after it.

Even though it was late and it would take an age to unpack and set up all of his cleaning gear again he decided he would go ahead, unload and clean the extra room. The woman thanked him and did acknowledge the extra work and inconvenience that was involved in cleaning the extra room.

Two weeks later he received a call from the hotel to come and clean some of their carpets.

Guess who was related to the elderly woman?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR

Is it all about price?

October 10, 2011

Win Win or is it all about price?

I remember when I started my first accountancy industry job in Deasy & Co. one of the early tasks I had was the job of selecting a supplier for all of our stationery requirements.

In those days we went through huge amounts of paper and our bill would have been quite large.

I approached the task diligently as the good accountant that I was – meeting each of the prospective suppliers and impassionately processing their quotes. The best quote won and next time round I did exactly the same thing all over again and put our business out for tender. It didn’t really matter who the supplier was – as long as I achieved the best price and the maximum savings for the company – wasn’t I brilliant?

24 years later and I find ourselves putting quotes together the whole time to hopefully win business and on the other side of the coin we deal with many suppliers.

A few things have I have learnt about pricing since those early days:

  • The clients who hammer us on price because that’s just what they do, I have very little interest in doing business with them again
  • If every piece of work a prospective client has is put out to auction I find myself caring less about this business (unless it is a tender situation where this is what you have to do)
  • I deal with suppliers that I like dealing with as long as their prices are fair – I won’t break them up every time
  • Trust and respect and a genuine interest in each others business is really important
  • The word Loyalty is really important -not blind loyalty
  • You have to leave a Win Win in every single deal that you do (James Caan the successful businessman from Dragons Den talks about learning this valuable lesson from his Dad at an early stage in his career in his excellent book)

For us building a successful business is all about providing excellent services (we don’t always get it right but we will try our best) to our clients in a partnership capacity – they outline their objectives and we do our best to achieve these together.

In the course of our business we use service and product providers that we trust and like doing business with, that ultimately will help us do our job. There is one exception where one of our suppliers just doesn’t care about our business and we are busy looking for a better solution.

The price should be fair and leave a Win Win for everyone.

Do you pay a heavy price when it’s all about price?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

p.s. apologies to those suppliers years ago – I guess we were probably the loser ?

Knowing you are the best and saying it

September 25, 2011
Hayfield Manor Hotel

Hayfield Manor Hotel

I was at a recent Chamber event in Cork and they had their usual “soap box” slot whereby a few members are given the opportunity to speak in front of the attendees and briefly tell everyone about their business.

This is quite an awkward moment for those invited to talk – they have about two minutes to inform and impress the listeners and generally try to make an impact with a combination of information, some humour and maybe a “catchy” phrase to finish their mini speech.

At the recent event Ettienne van Verde, General Manager of Hayfield Manor confidently took to the podium and started his speech by informing all of the attendees that they were the best hotel in the area.  At first there were a few quiet sniggers, some glances around the room because “saying you are the best” is generally not something that we say. It might be considered to be a little bit arrogant ..even if you believe it do you say it publically?

Not only did Ettienne state that they were the best hotel but he went on to explain why they were the best. He mentioned the friendly welcome, the free parking, the convenient location, the free wifi, the state of the art function room, the individually designed bedrooms and also the two award winning restaurants.

At the end of his confident two minute talk he was met with a big round of warm applause.For those who have experienced the hotel they would have to agree that Hayfield Manor is pretty good but I suspect the warm round of applause was for someone who proudly and confidently represented their business and wasn’t afraid to say “we are the best”.

If you believe you are best maybe you should start saying it

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Bad Haircut ..

August 22, 2011
Greg Canty - Fuzion

Haircut? - I just had one!

For years and years I went to the same hairdresser to get my curly mop chopped. For anyone that has witnessed my curls they will know that it is not a regular head of hair – at least that is what I have convinced myself!

Yes, I am particular and once I find someone who I trust to look after my hair I will continue to go there every time, asking for the same person – you end up feeling comfortable with the surroundings and the staff there, which in particular for a guy is a big deal … A hair salon can be a daunting place for a male, surrounded by women nattering, getting blow drys and with their hair in all sorts of weird tin foil! (surely there must be a better method?)

The guys reading this will be wondering why I don’t just go to a barbers – trust me, anytime I have done this it has been a total disaster … even when I was a kid the regular barber just couldn’t handle my hair. So, unfortunately I am destined for a life of embarrassing moments at hair salons ..

My hair trips have been interesting down though the years – ending up in the window under red lamps in Peter Marks at Wilton Shopping Centre when you are 15 on a Wednesday afternoon half day from school is not funny when your buddies are in convulsions looking in – last time I agreed for my hair to be dried naturally!

Or wondering that no matter what instructions I gave the salon I always ended up being scalped – years later I learnt that when I left the house my mother would ring the salon and warn them that she was coming for a refund if they did not give me a decent hair cut – for years I went around thinking hairdressers were deaf!!

The worst was being handed a brush to clean down my clothes and instead I start brushing my hair with it – mortified and red faced I left the salon with the staff thoroughly enjoying the hilarious experience ..

Now, do you understand why I am sensitive about the hairdressers and how important it is that I am comfortable there? – you can also understand that it would take me an awful lot to change from my regular salon.

Sure enough it happened – a few times I rang and they were always too busy and couldn’t squeeze me in, would the following Wednesday week at 4:30 suit? Not really ..

This happened a number of times and eventually I took a huge leap of faith and changed salons and 5 years later I am still going to the one that I switched to – I now know the staff quite well and am comfortable going there.

Truth is most of us are very slow to change our habits unless something has gone wrong, until the day you get a bad haircut – I guess there is more than one hairdresser in the land that can cut my strange mop of hair after all ..

As comfortable as your customer is with you and your team watch out for bad haircuts..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

PR is all about managing your reputation – while at Fuzion we can enhance your reputation through the media the most important aspects come directly from you.

Are you Making a Sale or Changing a Customers Routine?

August 2, 2011
Cafe Chico

Do you change your routine easily?

I admit it … I’m boring!

Every Sunday morning myself and Dee go for a walk with our four legged creature, Bing to the local park with our good friends Tommy and Joan and their four legged creature, Tammy.

This routine was so predictable – walk to Ballincollig Park, lap of the first field, walk alongside the river to the lower fields, cut up through the Gunpowder mills and the GAA fields, into the village, stop for coffee and scones at Nosh and Coffee, chat, walk through the village and home. This as I mentioned is what we do pretty much every Sunday.

A few months ago a very cute little mobile coffee kiosk moved into the car park at the start of the park serving coffee and buns and they even have a few very neat tables and chairs outside their unit complete with flowers in vases. Now, this didn’t really suit our break “routine” as the location of the kiosk was at the start of our walk and not in the middle so even though it was a really nice set up it wasn’t quite right for us (its a big deal changing people’s habits!).

Recently we did our usual walk but some of the “crew members” were a little hungover so having completed stage one of our walk we double backed, cut the walk short and went back to the little kiosk, “Cafe Chico” (the owner called the kiosk after her dog, who she brings with her for company each day) for some very welcome refreshments.

The woman working in the kiosk was really friendly, the coffee and home made scones were perfect and to top it all she offered us biscuits from a tin especially for the four legged creatures – Wow! this woman knew and understood her customers really well.

Officially we have changed our routine! Now the first leg of our walk is the same as it was before but now we do a few laps of the lower fields, double back along the river to lap the first field again and then return to the beginning to enjoy our coffee, scones and chat at Cafe Chico!

I know.. exciting stuff!

Why? She runs a great little friendly business, she understands her customer and she goes a little further than you would expect but fully appreciate.

Are you making a sale or are you changing a customers routine – which is worth more?

While we can look after your PR needs, your reputation starts with what you do yourself.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you doing “Bad Business”?

July 27, 2011
Judge Judy

Are you doing "Bad Business"?

I sat in the corridors of the Cork District Court for about 6 hours last week waiting for a really stupid case to be heard between us and our previous landlord.

Apparently Monday is HSE day at the District Court and these cases can drag on a little if they are not settled – the whole scenario is very strange with all sorts wandering around, many bored and others huddled in corners negotiating and planning. The odd person walks by with tears in their eyes – didn’t quite work out the way they wanted!

I wasted a full day at the court, my solicitor wasted a full day and the people on the other side wasted a full day, the judge wasted his time for something that should never have gone as far as the court.

Who won? – truthfully.. no one  – I felt like I was in an episode of Judge Judy and the the outcome was fine from my point of view with  Judge O’Leary (I was not expecting his approach to the case) slapping the landlord across the knuckles for not being better at minding his building and his “customers”. To be fair to the Judge it was late in the day and he must have been tired and not in the mood to listen to this “nothing” case – there must be a better way of ensuring that court time does not get taken up with rubbish? He did however give the case his full attention.

It was quite funny as I presented pictures of the front of the old building to the judge – the old saying, a picture paints a  1,000 words applied as the Judge reviewed the cobwebs on top of cobwebs pictures and then listened to how the landlord visits the building up to two times a week and checks everything. The other side argued that the pictures were irrelevant as they were just taken!

My day was  worth a lot more than the outcome and the pointless hassle that went on. A little bit of reasonableness and this could have been long sorted – the eventual result? – a compromise offer I made to sort it out 6 months beforehand is exactly where the whole thing eventually turned out! Having said all that I am sure that the little experience of sitting in the box, preparing an argument will stand to me later down the line for more stupidity at some point.

This was all about Bad Business ..

Day one we had hassle with this guy even before the lease was signed – ultimatums etc – Trust your gut and walk away when you get any hint of this – we didn’t – Bad Business

We have secured a judgement against a business in Dublin that we were dealing with and who owed us a lot of money – they still haven’t paid after a lot of hassle. They were terrible from the very first moment – not turning up for meetings and then leaving us wait forever at other times. They were inefficient, sloppy, constantly changing staff and changing their minds. We should have trusted our gut and walked away, we didn’t – Bad Business

I’m sure most of you have heard about Famous and the Credit Control Warrior at this stage – just read my blog about this saga. This is another one that will do the rounds with solicitors. We wasted more time working on the account and more again chasing what is due to us. I should probably leave it off at this stage but I don’t want him to get 1% satisfaction of walking away from anything after the way we were laughed at when we looked for our payment (I’m getting angry again just thinking about it). We should have trusted our gut in the first place and never agreed to take on this work, we didn’t  – Bad Business

We deal with a printer who are really awful to deal with. They are some of the most unpleasant people that we have to deal with. We still buy from them as their prices and quality are good – as soon as another viable option  comes along we are using someone else. I resent placing orders with them and hate ever having to lift the phone to deal with them  – Bad Business

Often the Bad Business is our own fault as we should know better and trust our instincts from the beginning. I guess at times in the depths of recession you will take on business if things are quiet but this doesn’t change the eventual outcome.

Are you doing Bad Business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Glamourous Toll Booth Woman!

June 20, 2011
Toll Booth Woman

"How are you?"

Pulling into the Portlaoise toll booth and I know I am making good time for the meeting in the centre of Dublin, as long as traffic into the city is OK. That can be a lottery at times ..

As usual you scramble for change as you pull into the quietest toll booth.

How are you today?

I wasn’t expecting that.. as I look up I discover the voice behind the friendly greeting was a smiling and very glamorous woman, well groomed, perfect make-up, blonde hair and wearing a very neat blouse and accessorised with necklace and earrings. My guess is that she could be in her early fifties.

She quickly hands me my 20 cent change and I am moving again.

I certainly wasn’t expecting that friendly greeting, but why not?  I guess we can quickly get too used to the, no rapport, nothing interaction type of interpersonal transaction that can happen so often on the phone, in the shop, at the coffee shop, at the train station or anywhere that we quickly interact with people.

Somehow the toll booth was not a place where I was expecting a friendly interaction like that.

I am guessing that working at the Portlaoise toll booth was not my glamourous woman’s dream job but she has clearly decided that she is going to do it in the best possible way, with pride, positivity, efficiency and personality.

All the thousands of drivers on their monotonous journeys who she deals with everyday benefit from her decision to do her job in this way.

Glamourous blonde toll booth woman, thank you … and thank you to anyone who is not exactly doing their dream job but makes a decision to do it the best possible way, with pride and with a friendly smile.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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