Customer service

I should know this by heart, but a little help would be appreciated. What if any are the essentials or fundamentals of customer service. Where can I find manuals or literature about this?

My number one rule is “What if I were in the customers place?” This goes for all aspects of the business.

I ask my staff to think about their own reaction to situations if the roles were reversed. The big thing that I constantly ask staff is " What if that were your food? How would you want it?" This is especially the case when they have forgotten to read the bill on the make line. If the customers ask to have the food a special way then make sure it is done that way. If it is not then do it over the way they wanted it.

yeah, I tell my people essentially the same thing. “what do you expect when you go out to eat? what do you expect from your server?” what I am trying to do is come up with a training program that all of my managers can use. All of the materials I had from the hut are gone.

That is some great advice. One thing I would like to add. Come up with a motto and put it up in the store. Ours is on the first page of our employee manual also.
Another part of customer service is when we do get the order wrong. We need to make up for it. Give them something for the trouble you caused them. There is a gold mine in mistakes if you handle them properly.

“Customer is king”.

Top 5 reasons why “The Customer Is Always Right” is wrong … -is-wrong/

When the customer isn’t right – for your business

One woman who frequently flew on Southwest, was constantly disappointed with every aspect of the company’s operation. In fact, she became known as the “Pen Pal” because after every flight she wrote in with a complaint.

She didn’t like the fact that the company didn’t assign seats; she didn’t like the absence of a first-class section; she didn’t like not having a meal in flight; she didn’t like Southwest’s boarding procedure; she didn’t like the flight attendants’ sporty uniforms and the casual atmosphere.

Her last letter, reciting a litany of complaints, momentarily stumped Southwest’s customer relations people. They bumped it up to Herb’s [Kelleher, CEO of Southwest] desk, with a note: ‘This one’s yours.’

In sixty seconds, Kelleher wrote back and said, ‘Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.’”

The phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909, and is typically used by businesses to:

1.Convince customers that they will get good service at this company
2.Convince employees to give customers good service
Fortunately more and more businesses are abandoning this maxim – ironically because it leads to bad customer service.

Here are the top five reasons why “The customer is always right” is wrong.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Gordon Bethune is a brash Texan (as is Herb Kelleher, coincidentally) who is best known for turning Continental Airlines around “From Worst to First,” a story told in his book of the same title from 1998. He wanted to make sure that both customers and employees liked the way Continental treated them, so he made it very clear that the maxim “the customer is always right” didn’t hold sway at Continental.

In conflicts between employees and unruly customers he would consistently side with his people. Here’s how he puts it:

When we run into customers that we can’t reel back in, our loyalty is with our employees. They have to put up with this stuff every day. Just because you buy a ticket does not give you the right to abuse our employees . . .

We run more than 3 million people through our books every month. One or two of those people are going to be unreasonable, demanding jerks. When it’s a choice between supporting your employees, who work with you every day and make your product what it is, or some irate jerk who demands a free ticket to ParisFrance because you ran out of peanuts, whose side are you going to be on?

You can’t treat your employees like serfs. You have to value them . . . If they think that you won’t support them when a customer is out of line, even the smallest problem can cause resentment.

So Bethune trusts his people over unreasonable customers. What I like about this attitude is that it balances employees and customers, where the “always right” maxim squarely favors the customer – which is not a good idea, because, as Bethune says, it causes resentment among employees.

Of course there are plenty of examples of bad employees giving lousy customer service. But trying to solve this by declaring the customer “always right” is counter-productive.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

Using the slogan “The customer is always right” abusive customers can demand just about anything – they’re right by definition, aren’t they? This makes the employees’ job that much harder, when trying to rein them in.

Also, it means that abusive people get better treatment and conditions than nice people. That always seemed wrong to me, and it makes much more sense to be nice to the nice customers to keep them coming back.

3: Some customers are bad for business

Most businesses think that “the more customers the better”. But some customers are quite simply bad for business.

Danish IT service provider ServiceGruppen proudly tell this story:

One of our service technicians arrived at a customer’s site for a maintenance task, and to his great shock was treated very rudely by the customer.

When he’d finished the task and returned to the office, he told management about his experience. They promptly cancelled the customer’s contract.

Just like Kelleher dismissed the irate lady who kept complaining (but somehow also kept flying on Southwest), ServiceGruppen fired a bad customer. Note that it was not even a matter of a financial calculation – not a question of whether either company would make or lose money on that customer in the long run. It was a simple matter of respect and dignity and of treating their employees right.

4: It results in worse customer service

Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency, took it even further. CEO Hal Rosenbluth wrote an excellent book about their approach called Put The Customer Second – Put your people first and watch’em kick butt.

Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first. Put employees first, and they will be happy at work. Employees who are happy at work give better customer service because:

•They care more about other people, including customers
•They have more energy
•They are happy, meaning they are more fun to talk to and interact with
•They are more motivated
On the other hand, when the company and management consistently side with customers instead of with employees, it sends a clear message that:

•Employees are not valued
•That treating employees fairly is not important
•That employees have no right to respect from customers
•That employees have to put up with everything from customers
When this attitude prevails, employees stop caring about service. At that point, real good service is almost impossible – the best customers can hope for is fake good service. You know the kind I mean: corteous on the surface only.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

Herb Kelleher agrees, as this passage From Nuts! the excellent book about Southwest Airlines shows:

Herb Kelleher […] makes it clear that his employees come first — even if it means dismissing customers. But aren’t customers always right? “No, they are not,” Kelleher snaps. “And I think that’s one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don’t carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, ‘Fly somebody else. Don’t abuse our people.’”

If you still think that the customer is always right, read this story from Bethune’s book “From Worst to First”:

A Continental flight attendant once was offended by a passenger’s child wearing a hat with Nazi and KKK emblems on it. It was pretty offensive stuff, so the attendant went to the kid’s father and asked him to put away the hat. “No,” the guy said. “My kid can wear what he wants, and I don’t care who likes it.”

The flight attendant went into the cockpit and got the first officer, who explained to the passenger the FAA regulation that makes it a crime to interfere with the duties of a crew member. The hat was causing other passengers and the crew discomfort, and that interfered with the flight attendant’s duties. The guy better put away the hat.

He did, but he didn’t like it. He wrote many nasty letters. We made every effort to explain our policy and the federal air regulations, but he wasn’t hearing it. He even showed up in our executive suite to discuss the matter with me. I let him sit out there. I didn’t want to see him and I didn’t want to listen to him. He bought a ticket on our airplane, and that means we’ll take him where he wants to go. But if he’s going to be rude and offensive, he’s welcome to fly another airline.

The fact is that some customers are just plain wrong, that businesses are better of without them, and that managers siding with unreasonable customers over employees is a very bad idea, that results in worse customer service.

So put your people first. And watch them put the customers first.

‘The customer is king’ is not the same as ‘the customer is always right’

‘The customer is king’ is a whole ethos about making sure that the customer is the focus of a business and the decisions the business makes regardless of where it is in the whole business process.

‘The customer is always right’ is a much more ‘hands on’ decision about how the end customers are handled.

I agree that ‘customers are king’ but they are not always right.

I agree wizzle. some customers need to be put in their place, they are looking for nothing but something free.

Like the one who left an abusive message on our answering machine because we were closed at 10.28 on a Saturday night (we close at 10pm) He used a lot of f*#k etc telling us that we didn’t know how to run a business “because 70% of people want pizzas at that time of night and that if we were doing $5k a night (only wish we were) that if we stayed open longer we would do $10k a night” (quote / unquote) (only wishing more :smiley: )
Good to know that some of my customers can say I’m “useless and don’t have a clue on how to run a business” (that must have been talking to Nick :wink: ) Just love these super intelligent birdbrains who think they are gods gift to everything and everyone.
Shame I didn’t get his number as I would have called him back and invited him to our going out of business party once I heeded his advise and kept staff on and opened longer to appease the 70% of idiots out there who represent 0.001% of our customer base.
For the record we do around 70% of our business between 6pm and 8.30pm
Don’t know about customer service, but this idiot would get a big serve from me :twisted:


I think I just heard the number “3 out of 1000” folks will be totaly unsatisfiable no matter what. They are the ones who will complain no matter what you do to appease them. The solution? Make right their complaint, thank them for their business and let them know their relationship with your shop is over, have a nice day.

In my experience the ones who complain frequently only complain when they pay for food there is never anything wrong with a replacement or free item.

Likewise, people who complain about their order being late never complain about their replacement or free order being late, even when it is!

I have had cause to challenge two customers on this particular point in the last year. My manager had provided 2 replacement pizza’s/orders to each of these customers one customer who complained of wrong toppings/side orders etc and one for the orders being really late (even though my POS stated otherwise).

On the 3rd occasion that each of them called I apologised for ‘disappointing’ them with our product/service but as we frequently were not able to satisfy them I suggested they try someone else - funnily enough they weren’t too pleased and argued with me to keep serving them. I had to ask why anyone would argue to stay with a company that couldn’t deliver the right product/on time - they couldn’t really answer that one.

Both have since used us again without any complaints. … stomer+ser

I’d start with finding some good sources from books on the subject and put the training together with the stuff I liked from each source. To be effective you should periodically reenforce the training with your crew, even your veterans. Remember to include training on how to defuse situations and not to take it personally.

Exceptional customer service can be a great differentiator and will build loyalty with your customers. You’ll always have scammers and the a**head customers but those will (hopefully) be the exception. Those will need to be dealt with case by case.

I had one customer when I worked at the Hut who was raising hell even after I gave him his meal free, coupons for a free pizza, and my sincere apologies for the situation. Other customers where even looking at him like he was a idiot. I simply asked him “Sir, what else can I do to make it right.”
That defused the situation and he ended up leaving the store, he even said “I’m being an a**hole huh”.

Good luck!

Make an effort to get to know your customers and what they like. If you have a customer that always orders pizza and has a topping left off, and suddenly they order but dont mention to leave the topping off, ask them if they want that topping. If they forgot to mention to leave it off, they’ll be happy that you caught it before they waited only to get something they didnt want.

If they’re dining in and have kids with them, do something for the kids. it could be something to color on or a ball of dough to play with. If you keep them happy and content and quiet, their parents will appreciate it as well as all the other customers in the room.

I’ve had a couple of customers that call and order “the usual.” If I had someone new that didnt know how to look at the customers previous order and copy it to the new one, it threw them off (and sometimes agrivated the customer). Learn to use that feature of your POS software, it can come in quite handy. Note: Always read the order back. These can be your best customers/orders if you handle it right.
Example: Had a guy that would order on friday night before he went to work. He’d call about in about 9:30 and order “the usual”, we’d click new order, click his phone number on the screen, click carryout, click “last order”, then click “Copy Last Order” and then click done, and during the time i was doing that, i’d ask “10:30 tonight?” he’d say “Sounds good” and cya later, and I’d be off the phone in under 30 seconds. When they come in, Chat em up a bit.

Also, try your best to give the customer what they want if its realistic, even if it means sending someone to the store for something. I had one customer that had a weekly standing order with us. Unless we got a call from him to cancel that week, the order got made and we got paid.

we have a customer who requests that our delivery driver stop and pick up cigarettes for her. I don’t really have a problem with this so long as the customer tips the driver well. After all it’s not his job to pick cigarettes up for her, we do it as a courtesy and as a sign of thanks a good tip is expected. Thanks everyone for the imput, I sat down one day and typed up something that jogged my memory. But you all have good points and if we all learn from each other that can only make us all better.

Night mare customers can be a pain, I’ve had to call the cops on a few in my day.

My number one rule is to treat every customer the same—regardless of where they live, what they do for a living, race, religion, age, etc------I found out a long time ago that doing favors for one customer will turn around and bite you in the butt down the road, so if I can’t do a special request for all of my customers I won’t do it for one.

I couldn’t find what I was looking for on training books, but Phone etiquette and how to properly handle phone calls would be at the top of my list.