Good Customer Service – Does It Exist?

So many people around us are talking about ‘good service’, ‘bad service’. All these different kinds of service!Many companies are focusing their marketing and training efforts on one thing and one thing only:Great service for their customers and clients!Everyone wants to have it, experience it, feel it and enjoy it. Why wouldn’t they?The question though, is, do we really recognize good or even excellent service when we see it, or are we mainly focused on the bad, unfriendly, often non-existing service?Yes. This is the problem!We concentrate our efforts so hard on bad service; hardly anyone sees good service anymore! Why is that?Because that is the service (bad service) we most likely receive, if we receive any at all!Bad ServiceHave you recently been to the registration office for your car? Let me guess how that went for you… signs promising that service and quality are of the utmost importance… until you take a number, that is, and realize that 35 people are queued up in front of you. Uncomfortable plastic seats. The free water dispenser is empty. The vending machine is broken.After 2 hours, it’s finally your turn and you pay almost $200 for a piece of paper handed to you by someone who left their smile at home and who looks like they’re giving serious consideration to jumping from the next bridge they come across.Well, I suppose a “Thank you!” is written on the receipt, after all!A few friends of mine recently flew to a faraway land and should have received a lunch meal to choose from. As usual, chicken or pasta were the choices as part of their $800 flight. The stewardess came to their seat and asks about their lunch choice. Both of them asked for the chicken but are told that it’s unfortunately out. Ok then, pasta (who knows why the choice was offered in the first place!). After everything has been served and cleared up, one of my friends went to the bathroom and sneaked a quick look into the small kitchen were three stewardesses were eating quickly and quietly. What were they eating? The chicken!Good service is of paramount importance, apparently.Good ServiceOk, enough of this negativity! Let’s look at positive service.When you open the tap in the kitchen, water comes out, right? That is service from your water company. Yet we don’t recognize this as a service. Well, only when there is no water, then we see it as a bad service. Same with TV, Internet, cell phone connections. They all work great for 364 days a year, but if it these go down for even a few hours, we go bananas!So, what exactly is ‘service’ anyway?One definition I like is from BusinessDictionary.com which says:”Intangible products such as accounting, banking, cleaning, consultancy, education, insurance, expertise, medical treatment, or transportation. Sometimes services are difficult to identify because they are closely associated with a good; such as the combination of a diagnosis with the administration of a medicine. No transfer of possession or ownership takes place when services are sold, and they (1) cannot be stored or transported, (2) are instantly perishable, and (3) come into existence at the time they are bought and consumed.”Another one, which is much shorter and brings it perfectly to the point is from Webster’s College Dictionary and goes like this:… an act of helpful activity.Just imagine what would happen if we were able to combine those two definitions and be helpful while using this intangible product?I believe this would change the world for the better.How do we define ‘good’ or ‘bad’ service? In most cases it’s simply obvious what constitutes as ‘good’ service; people are friendly, polite, deliver on time, help with difficulties and solve problems in an efficient and satisfying way. The same goes for ‘bad’ service; slow staff (if any), no help, unfriendliness, no interest in customers, long waiting times, ignorant people, etc.In the end, however, every person has their own, personal idea of what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ service actually is. We all have our own, subjective expectations.Sure. There are plenty of ways to use the term ‘service’, such as in ‘public service’, etc, but I like to focus on the general term ‘service’.At the workplace of our industry, service means, very simply, to act helpfully to and with our guests, so they are receiving the best intangible product.Sure, we’re selling both, tangible and intangible products. Intangible are the services like cooking and preparing the dishes, serving the food and beverages, clearing plates, etc. The tangible parts are the food and beverage items itself.The restaurant business is wrapping the service around the items you can see, eat and drink and offers the entire package to their guests- and it’s this overall package that justifies their profits at the end of the day.Next time your go to work, have a look to see the tangible and intangible products you are serving. Look out for these two things, too, when going to other places such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc.As you begin to recognize the different tangible and intangible products we’re selling to our customers, you’ll be able to look at each one individually and make decisions on how it can be improved, and whether or not that product/service should be considered ‘good’ or ‘bad.

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