Customer Focus - The Key to Success in any economy

 Would you return to a restaurant that offers lousy service?
If you're like most people, quality of service is of real importance to you in selecting places for dining, shopping or accommodation. Last week, I had one of the worst restaurant service experiences, ever - and I'd like to share it with you...

 On Saturday a party of 6 of us decided to meet at a restaurant (midmarket national chain that I usually enjoy) to celebrate my birthday. The first couple arrived at 6:30pm and requested a table for 6. They were told they could have a seat at the bar while they waited, as it could take 30-45 minutes. The hostess took my friends’ name, however she neglected to give them a pager.  By 7pm, when we had all arrived and were sharing a bottle of wine, we noticed that others in groups of 4 to 6 who had arrived more recently were being seated. Upon inquiring, we were told we should have a table in 10 minutes. By 8pm we were starving, and still had not been shown to a table. We spoke to the manager on duty, to let him know that we were extremely disappointed. His response? He said that there was nothing he could do. Wow!

Anyone who knows me understands my passion for service. The next day I emailed the GM of the location, as well as the president. The president emailed me within 24 hours, thanking me, and arranged a time to call me. He explained that, as the new president, it was his goal to improve service. He volunteered the observation that in his experience, the locations with service-oriented managers tended to do well, whereas in other locations poor management has led to poor hiring and more service complaints. I took the opportunity to share with him our unique system for Job Benchmarking, and the profiling system that assists in hiring better service providers. (Click here to learn more)

The bottom line? Within 24 hours I had $300 in gift certificates couriered to me, with apologies from the president, as well as an invitation to meet with him. He agreed that, from what he has seen, they need to weed out managers and servers who are not intrinsically motivated to create a “wow” customer experience. And he wants to learn more about how we help organizations benchmark jobs to hire top performers for better service. See his letter, here.

Now, as the new leader of this fabulous chain, he's committed to creating excellent service, and I think we'll be able to help.

Three lessons:

1) To succeed in this or any economy, an organization needs to be customer/ client driven. When mistakes are made, ensure that the recovery leads to the customer’s reasonable satisfaction.

2) Ensure that you are recruiting “Right Fit” managers and staff who are best aligned to achieve your organizations strategic plans.

3) On an individual note, if you want to progress in your career, commit to doing more than anyone expects in how you perform your work. Your boss and your organization’s customers are your collective clients. Decide to be a top performer in all that you do, and your job prospects will always remain stronger than the competition’s.

Chuck  Reynolds is a Principal and Chief Performance Officer with Excel Group Development, a Performance Solutions firm that assists organizations in enhancing management and team  effectiveness. He can be reached indirectly  by emailing our admin group. Insert 'ATTN Chuck' in the subject area. Visit them at 

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