- "I have no control over that."
- "I'm just an employee."
After a particularly challenging evening of poor customer service, and one stellar experience this morning, I'm reminded of a phrase I have used many times: Don't tell me how I can't do this, tell me how I CAN.
So in an attempt to find something useful from my experiences today, here are a few tips for customer service.
If things aren't going as planned, own up to it. On two occasions recently, I had a restaurant reservation where I did not get seated for an hour or more after the reservation time, and there was no place to comfortably wait. On both occasions, the hostess tried to gloss over the wait by saying, "It won't be long." Excuse me, but an hour wait is definitely long. Had I been informed a realistic wait time, I could have made an informed decision about staying or leaving. Customers can tell if you're not being completely transparent.
Never underestimate the power of a token gift to make amends. A complimentary upgrade or small gift doesn't cost much and can go a long way to restoring a customer's trust in you.
Give your front line decision making authority. At Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport this morning, the line for security was incredibly long. Even the priority lane was 50 people deep. Then, from no where, an airport employee said, "If this group would follow me, the checkpoint on the other side has a shorter line. I'll take you there." As we were walking briskly to the other area, one of my fellow travelers commented, "I hope this was worth the hike." Our hero employee said, "If the line isn't shorter, I'll personally take you all through the employee lane." He probably trimmed over 30 minutes from our wait through security. All because he was empowered to redirect passenger traffic. Rock star.