Last weekend my family and I travelled to a nearby country town.
We had some important family business to attend to prior to going to a well renowned café for lunch.
That family business delayed our arrival at the café by some fifteen minutes.
When I knew that we were delayed, I phoned the café to advise them that we were still on our way, and that we would be there shortly. I knew that our reserved table for five people would be a sort after table during a busy Saturday lunchtime service.
When I phoned, the person who answered my call was very friendly and cheerful, thanking me for phoning, and assuring me that our delay was quite OK, and also letting me know that the table had been prepared and was ready and available for us when we arrived.
She set my mind at ease.
She also offered me a great assurance that they were ready for us, and our table would be available for us as soon as we arrived.
I found this interesting, mainly because in these sorts of situations in other industries, often the concerns of the delayed arriving customer are brushed aside by staff with very little concern for the customer’s feelings and anxiety.
It is embarrassing to run late.
And it is very relieving to have our concerns about our lateness be accepted and understood with empathy.
When we arrived at the café, it was wonderful to see so many familiar staff working there. This town is about an hour from our home, so it’s not a place we visit often, but it is a place we like to stop off at when on country trips and drives.
After being shown to our table, and getting ourselves settled, we all headed up to the counter to place our lunch order.
The team member who took our order at the counter was very helpful and patient, and assembled the order from our five diners in one seamless motion, even though some of our family took a while to make their dining choices.
Later on, back at our table, when Sam came to bring water to our table, he remembered us, and said fondly:
“It’s great to see you again. Welcome back.”
There’s nothing more reassuring than recognition.
Babies cry for it and grown men die for it.
And customers love it too.
Towards the end of our lunch, I decided to purchase some pre-cut caramel slices to take home with us for afternoon tea. This was because three of our family were going to be visiting our newly renovated home for the first time before travelling on to back to Sydney.
When I made the purchase of the slices at the café counter, the lady asked me whether I would like them in a small bag [they were presented in a clear plastic cube-shaped box].
I thought the bag would be a good idea, to protect the slices from sunlight damage during our drive home.
What surprised me was that the lady took the slices and put them in the bag, and then walked around from behind the counter to come out on my side of the counter and present the bag to me, and to thank me and wish me a good rest of my day.
This was such an easy action for her to perform, but the best part about it was how important her action made me feel.
When giving that EXTRA bit of customer service, sometimes we don’t realise that our efforts have an effect on our customer that lasts for hours or day afterwards.
That little action of walking around to my side of the counter made me feel important.
And I know that The Four Seasons Hotel check-in staff do this routinely when giving arriving guests their room keys.
And they walk their arriving guests to the elevators… every time.
But it is the little things that end up having the big impacts.
That lady at the café did not know that my family had been visiting my mother’s grave at the local cemetery that morning, remembering her life and celebrating twenty years since she lost her five-year battle with ovarian cancer.
And the lady at the café did not know that we’d all travelled a distance to do this.
And how much we miss her…
And I guess the lady didn’t really know what sort of impact her kindness shown to us was going to have?
Or did she?
I’m thinking she did know….
Because I’m guessing that this sort of caring behaviour is what this lady always does…
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