Customer service isn’t an absolute!

I was quite pleased with the level of pretentiousness in the title of my blog this week… it almost sounds intellectual, which is a bit of a first for me.

Let me explain what I mean (which isn’t really intellectual at all):

A customer’s perception of the service received is nothing to do with the service that’s actually delivered.

Let me explain what I mean by that(!):

We went for a night out in Edinburgh recently. We hadn’t booked anywhere and it can be difficult to find a table at a restaurant, especially as summer is here. Eventually we found a place we hadn’t used before… it looked okay: some people in it, a bit rustic maybe, but not a show stopper!

The thing is, it turned out to be fantastic: brilliant food, excellent staff and a great atmosphere.

All in all we had such a great night out that we decided that we would go back and, this time, take some friends with us.

When we finally found some people to come with us (by trawling through our contact lists) we managed to persuade them to come with us by telling them about this little gem of a restaurant where the food was brilliant, the staff did more than grunt at you and the atmosphere led to a great evening.

The evening came and, yes, everything was the same: the food, the service and the atmosphere were all just as a good as before.

And what did our friend say when we left… ‘It was okay.’

Okay!

Are you kidding?

Well, they weren’t. It was simply because their expectations were different to ours. We weren’t expecting much so when we got lots, we were delighted. Our friends were expecting lots and got lots… but the gap between their expectation and service deliver was much smaller than ours.

Hence, their belief that the service wasn’t as good.

So, when delivering service, it’s important to set expectations at a realistic level so they can be beaten. Not an easy job… for example, you can’t say ‘Come in, we’re rubbish!’ And then deliver a fantastic service and everyone is happy… you won’t get people in the door.

At the same time you do have to set expectations otherwise someone or something will set them for you.

And so to the point of this (slight) rant about customer service…

We had a new kitchen fitted last week (Thursday and Friday) and the the company promises to take the old kitchen away.

The fitters also said the debris (and I quote) ‘will be lifted today’.

So it was a great surprise when we came home Friday night and the rubbish was piled in the communal hallway of our apartment… and was still there when we left for working this morning.

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