I know I have not posted anything of much substance here over the past couple months. I do apologize, but unfortunately my work schedule during the fall months has not allowed me to really concentrate on things to write.
With that said ... over the last two days I have had a couple experiences with customer service that may provide some lessons:
1) Last night in Hartford, I brought my girlfriend and her friends to Mad Dawwgs Saloon ... a bar that I do not frequently visit because I never really have a "stand out" experience. There are other places downtown that I always seem to have more fun at. That is not to say that I necessarily have had bad experiences at Mad Dawwgs ... until last night.
Upon entering the establishment, we noticed that the place wasn't too "hoppin'". There were a few guys at the far end of the bar talking to the bartender. The ladies went to the back to wait while I picked up the first round (what a gentleman, I know). After seeing me a couple times, the bartender continued to talk to the "regulars" for at least 5 minutes before finally making the time to serve me. This happened on this round, and the second round (which proved to be our last at Mad Dawwgs).
2) Tonight, I just went to a local diner here in Denville, NJ. I have driven by this diner on numerous occassions, as my work brings me to a hotel in this area a lot. I have never stopped in. Tonight I decided to take the "plunge" and go to the diner. Upon entering the diner, I noticed a few things. First and foremost, the only people there were a few folks that obviously knew the owner ... as he was socializing with them. Second, the wait staff were all hanging out together at a booth watching the football game.
After waiting a couple minutes to get seated (at this empty diner at 11:30 p.m. on a snowy and cold Sunday night), I finally got a seat. I ordered my favorite; bacon cheeseburger. The meal came in a decent amount of time ... and the burger was great.
After finishing, I sat by my lonesome for almost 15-minutes. There was none of the typical "How is everything?" from the waiter ... no "can I refill your lemonade" ... nothing. I was considering finishing my meal with one of their delectable desserts ... until the waiter simply brought me my check, said thank you ... and walked away.
Both of these situations show us that in a service-oriented society, you are always on stage ... and you are always cultivating new business prospects. That Hartford bartender was so fixated on her "regulars", that she ultimately showed that she had no interest in bringing new customers into the fold. She didn't just lose my business ... but she also lost the business of my girlfriend and her friends, and any friends from around the country that come to visit. I can take them elsewhere for a much better time.
The waiters and owner of the diner also missed an opportunity. Like I said, I travel to this area frequently and have never been in this diner ... and I never will again. If the staff had taken a few moments to check up ... an up-sale for a dessert ... a refresher on the beverage ... things would be different. But again, the owner was concentrating on pleasing the "regulars", and lost sight of new business.
Am I suggesting that as soon as you have a customer's trust you should assume you will always have it? Not at all ... but what I am saying is that once you have your customer's trust, they will appreciate seeing you give some polite consideration to others, and forgive you walking away for a brief moment to do your job.