Know Who You Are. Be Who You Are. Customers crave consistency. Consistency starts with customer-facing employees. Every team member should be able to state the top 3-5 “who we are” statements defined by leadership. And every employee must live these values. For example, assume three defined values are: Fast Checkout, Low Prices, Friendly Service. In this case, a customer with a problem at checkout should be helpfully redirected to the service desk for proper assistance. Loyal customers in line will appreciate the focus on Fast Checkout – a value consistently honored. Each business knows their customers and should carefully craft their values, communicate their values, and live their values. And remember – trying to cater to every customer personality style is a recipe for failure. Pick your core values and stick to them.
Talk To Customers Face To Face. In general, restaurant managers score well on the topic of directly asking customers how service could be improved. In an industry with razor thin margins such as food service, winners understand ever-changing trends in customer desires. Online surveys are fine for collecting general trends. But if you want direct feedback, talk with customers face to face. Leaders must visit the heart of the operation and directly ask customers for improvements. Go beyond the standard, “Did you find everything today?” Ask open ended-questions that dictate action:
- What could we have done better for you today?
- If you ran this store, what would you change?
- Is there any reason you’d try a competitor anytime soon?
Communicate feedback to employees. Pick one opportunity per month to drive change; be sure it aligns with “who you are” values.
Be Responsive. Customers have options. And short attention spans. When customers ask questions through any medium – email, phone, social media, message board – have processes in place to answer questions in less than 1 business day. Timely follow-up means the customer is important. The fastest way to alienate a customer is answering their request “when we get to it.” The customer will be shopping the competition.
Customer satisfaction is a powerful magnet fostered more from focus than capital expenditure. Know yourself. Know your customer. Know success.
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