I want to take a moment to depart from the topics of both self-publishing and happiness to go on a brief rant about customer service. It can be summed up in one simple sentence: “An informed customer is a happy customer!” (Okay, I guess this is about happiness after all.)
Over the weekend, my husband and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Hollywood. When we walked in, the place was more than half empty, and I overheard the couple in front of us being told that they couldn’t be seated because the waiter for that section just had a big table seated and he wouldn’t be able to get to them for five minutes. The man asked if they could just sit at the table and wait, and the hostess said she’s not allowed to seat people if they can’t get service right away or they get upset. He said they wouldn’t get upset, but he didn’t want to wait in the entryway (which was smaller than the bathroom in my college dorm room with even fewer places to sit). She gave a little-girl cringe and said, “Sorry.” He and his date walked out.
About five seconds later, right before we could be told the same thing, the manager walked over to tell the hostess something. That’s when I politely offered him some customer service feedback. I explained that this is something that happens to us all the time – staring at a room full of empty tables and not being seated – and that customers really hate that. If it is a matter of the waitstaff being overwhelmed, just tell me. Maybe the average customer is a jerk, but what if the hostess said, “Your server just got slammed with a huge order, so I can seat you, but it will be at least five minutes before anyone can get to your table, or would you rather wait for a table when someone can take your order right away?” Chances are the customer would opt to sit and would be cool about it. The manager missed my point entirely and replied with, “Fine, I’ll seat you now if that’s what you want.” Something tells me their policy isn’t changing anytime soon. Luckily, our waiter was awesome, and knowing he was so busy, we were really patient. It’s all a matter of complete information.
How many times have you sat on a plane for an hour or more past your scheduled take-off wondering what was going on and fuming? Airlines — just tell me exactly what the delay is, and if possible how long it should take, and I’m good. Knowledge is power. It’s also very calming.
One of my television pleasures these days is “Shark Tank.” This show is so good, and provides great insight into what investors think about opportunities, and what entrepreneurs get right and wrong in starting and growing a business.
Recently, they featured Lani Lazzari, the 18-year old founder of Simple Sugars. She got an investment from Mark Cuban, and her product seemed so amazing, I went straight to the web and ordered some. I also “liked” the company’s Facebook page. Two days after my order, this notice appeared on Facebook:
“Dear wonderful supporters of Simple Sugars, I wanted to post to let everyone know that due to the crazy and awesome response we have received from my Shark Tank appearance, we are asking you all to be a little bit patient with us as we adjust to the rapid growth we are experiencing. Up until Shark Tank, we were a five person company. Thanks to all of you, I have been able to hire 12 new people in the past 3 days!! And we have moved into a bigger space. Everyone is working around the clock so that we can get your orders out to you as soon as possible. At this point, we have received close to 15,000, yes I said FIFTEEN THOUSAND orders since Friday. We are getting literally thousands of phone calls and emails daily. Please know that I am super appreciative of all of the enthusiastic support and every customer is important to us. We are truly doing the best we possibly can. At this point we are asking you to expect your order to ship in 10-14 days. You will receive a notice from us when your order ships, as well as tracking information from UPS. Emailing us to ask about the status of the order you placed yesterday is only slowing us down. This is a very exciting time for Simple Sugars and I appreciate so much all the kind words and positive messages! Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we grow Simple Sugars into an even more awesome company! Stay Smooth~Lani ♥”
The girl who wrote that is EIGHTEEN and she knows more about customer service than your average airline pilot, MBA or Buffalo Wild Wings manager. I also appreciate the very polite and gentle way she asked people to stop bugging the crap out of them while they tried to get all of the orders filled in a timely manner.
It’s simple – keep your customer informed and you will keep them happy…and coming back. Please feel free to share this message with any company that you think needs to be told. I personally am posting it on Buffalo Wild Wings Facebook page. Who knows? Maybe some good will come of it.
And as far as this blog goes, don’t worry, we’ll get back to Happiness and self-publishing tomorrow. The book is coming along nicely and I hope to have a huge announcement very soon.
Until then, in the words of a remarkable young businesswoman, “Stay Smooth ~ Valerie”