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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Using Good Manners Leads to Great Customer Service

My husband and I have just returned from our second vacation in Cozumel, Mexico. We absolutely love it there and are planning to return again this summer.

We love it not only because of the beauty of the surroundings, but also because of the wonderful customer service we received from each of the establishments we visited.  You may be thinking, “Of course you received good customer service, Cozumel is a tourist city and the main source of income comes from visitors”. Yes, that is true. However, a few things stood out to us during our visits.

First, the people of Cozumel are what make this such special place. Yes, it is a city where tourism is a primary source of the economy so they are nice to everyone. However, they also know that developing relationships with their customers is what is most important. They are honest and sincere. Emily Post said, “Good manners reflect something from inside-an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.” The innate sense of consideration for others that Ms. Post mentioned was evident in each establishment we entered. We never felt rushed to leave a restaurant just so someone else could have our table. The focus was on making us feel welcome. There is a saying that people don’t always remember what you do for them, but they will remember how you make them feel. For me, that is probably the most important part of customer service. It is what will take us back to Cozumel, and it is what will create returning customers for your place of business.

The second thing we noticed is that the waiters and waitresses didn’t seem to work a particular section of the restaurant. It appeared that the employees worked together as a team and each employee took responsibility for taking care of each customer.  For instance, the hostess may have seated us and taken our drink order. The bartender would bring our drinks to the table. Our waiter would take our order, and the manager would bring the food to our table. Our waiter, and other servers, would then check on us periodically to refill glasses, or make sure everything was okay. We would also see our server helping with other tables as well. That sense of teamwork worked well because we never saw any customer upset because they needed more tea or their meal wasn’t prepared correctly. It also seemed to reduce the stress levels of the employees. There was a sense of cohesiveness among the staff. We saw employees dancing as they worked. They laughed with each other and with the customers. It was as if each one was hosting the customers in their own homes. They included the customers in their conversations and jokes.  This created a feeling of unity.

In his book, Good to Great,   Jim Collins used the analogy of people sitting on a bus to describe the success of a company. He said great companies have the right people, on the right seats, on the right bus, at the right time. This is a great comparison, because it’s the people that work for a company that determine the company’s success. When employees understand the company’s mission and goals, and when they work together to reach those goals, success will follow. We saw this time and time again during our vacation:  people working together, having fun, and making their customers happy. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com once said, “If you build a great experience, customers will tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” I agree. I am using word of mouth right now to tell you about a wonderful vacation spot.

There is an old adage that says: “A happy customer will tell a friend, but an unhappy customer will tell the world.”  Do your customers tell each other about the POSITIVE experiences they received at your place of business? If not, what can you do to promote such an experience that people will come back and bring their friends and family? Perhaps by using good manners, being sincere in making customers happy and working as a team to promote good customer service, you too will improve your customer satisfaction as well as your company’s success.

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