Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Recently, my wife and I took custody of my 7-year-old cousin. With my wife, 2 daughters and myself, this now makes us a family of 5. For anyone who has children, you know that going out to eat becomes a little more difficult. Three weeks ago the children asked to go to McDonald's for lunch. Reluctantly, my wife and I agreed, loaded up into the car and made the journey to McDonald's.
When we walked in, the trash was over flowing and was now being piled on top of the containers. There were trays with trash on nearby tables and on the floor. Receipts littered the floor near the counter as we approached to order. The young girl taking our order was noticeably unhappy and unwelcoming. I paid and proceeded to go and clean a table to fit all 5 of us.
20 minutes later, we finally got our food. The food was cold, the special requests were seemingly ignored and they didn’t bring us our drinks. When I approached the counter to get things fixed, I was met with more attitude and disdain.
Fast forward a few weeks later and I’m on a business trip in Chicago taking a customer to Joe’s Stone Crab. When we arrived, we were greeted and promptly taken to our table. The restaurant was extremely clean and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. Our server was very accommodating and remembered every detail of our order even though he didn’t write anything down. He was attentive, friendly, professional and made the evening unlike any dining experience I’d ever had.
These two drastically different experiences have caused me to think deeply about how companies interact with their customers. One experience was very transactional while the other was transformational. One experience created a sense of frustration while the other created a feeling of delight and satisfaction. What type of experience are you creating for your customers? Is it a Fast Food experience or is it one of a Fine Dining restaurant?
The difference between the two experiences are not hard to envision, however moving from a fast food experience to one of fine dining can seem extremely far apart, but in reality, no matter the business, there are small changes you can implement that will drastically improve your customers experience.
3 Easy Steps to move from Fast Food to Fine Dining
1. Start with Yes - In most companies, there are processes and procedures that have to be followed. When a customer presents us with a challenge that might cause us to step outside of our normal processes, the first answer given is typically no. This causes a customer to step back and get defensive that there wasn’t even a effort made to see if there could be an exception. An easy fix is to Start With Yes.
“Yes Mr. Customer, I’d love to help you with xyz, however that is a little out of our standard. Let me do some checking and see if there is some way we can help you.”
Even if you still can’t help them, present some potential alternatives to let them see and feel you are actually trying to help.
2. Follow the Sunset Rule – One of the worst feelings ever is not getting a response to a question. In a world of ultimate connectivity, why is it that we can ignore emails. If a customer sends you an email, with a question, concern or anything in between, you don’t have to answer right away, but at least let them know you have received the email and are working on it. The Sunset Rule is very helpful in this. The Sunset Rule states that you will respond to a customer or coworker, via phone or email, regardless whether you have the answer, before the end of the day.
“Hey Mr. Customer, I got your email/phone call today. I don’t have an answer for you yet, but I’m working on it. I’ll follow up with you tomorrow and give you a status update.”
3. Honor Your Word – One lesson I will always remember from my father was this, “Son, a man’s word is his bond. You should always do what you tell someone you’re going to do.” Honoring your word isn’t exactly a culturally practiced virtue anymore. When it comes to your customers, coworkers, really anyone, you should always honor your word and do what you’ve said you would. If you told your customer, like the above example, that you will follow up the next day, you should do it.
“Hey Mr. Customer. I told you I would follow up and give you a status update today. I still don’t have the answer yet, but here’s where we are with it currently. I’ll check back in with you again tomorrow with another update or hopefully the answer.”