What Constitutes Bad, Indifferent, Good and Exceptional Customer Service?

Interesting question! Here’s some thoughts but before getting underway way,let’s re-cap on the key reasons for delivering excellent service.Happy customers will:

  • Come  back time and time again giving you repeat business.
  • Be comfortable with you charging a premium rate for a premium service.
  • Recommend you to their circle of contacts.
  • Give you a testimonial for your marketing activity including endorsements within your social media strategy.


OK-let’s crack on!

When you walk into a restaurant and are greeted by the Front of Restaurant staff in a warm friendly way with a smile, does that constitute good or exceptional customer service? If no one even looks at you and you’re left standing there until either you walk up to him or her or walk out, does that constitute bad or just indifferent service?

The difference is not just down to the level of service you provide but also your customer’s expectation of the service they feel they should receive! When you walk into a cafe or a burger place, you expect a certain level of service; when you walk into a top London restaurant, you would be horrified to receive the same level of service as the cafe! It’s all down to managing and exceeding expectations. Conversely, you might feel very uncomfortable receiving the top London restaurant level of service when walking into a cafe or a burger place.


Let me tell you a story!


BU lives in Bad customer service Universe, IU lives in Indifferent customer service Universe, GU lives in Good customer service Universe and EU lives in Exceptional customer service Universe.


There were four customers, each living in parallel universes. They were called BU, IU, GU and EU. They all booked the restaurant over the Internet to celebrate 18 years of marriage. It was to be a romantic meal for two and they were really looking forward to it!


BU arrives at the restaurant to find it doesn’t have the booking and, to add insult to injury, it doesn’t really seem to care either! After enquiring what the restaurant intends to do about it, BU is told “well, it’s not our fault, there’s nothing we can do, we’re fully booked and anyway you should have phoned to get confirmation.” BU protests, “The website confirmed the booking.” The Restaurant replies, “You can’t trust that, we don’t control it, it’s not our fault!” After further protestation BU is given a table and has a meal. BU complains and is ignored but pays £120 for the meal and leaves very unhappy and disappointed. BU promises never to return and to tell everyone possible how bad the restaurant was.


IU has better luck. He arrives at the restaurant to find they have the booking and is greeted in a matter-of-fact way. IU is about to go through to the table when the restaurant says that the table is not ready yet but will be shortly. Fifteen minutes, and many apologies, later IU is taken to the table however, he is politely reminded that patrons sitting at the table must wear a tie. In IU’s universe the website did not say a tie was needed so he had to borrow one from the restaurant, which was very embarrassing. IU pays £120 for the meal and leaves thinking that could have gone better. IU did not complain but vowed to find an alternative restaurant in the future and never return.


GU had received a confirmatory email from the restaurant with the time, date and reference number of the booking. GU arrives and is greeted by a friendly person with a smile and is taken to the table straight away. GU if offered drinks on the house at the end of the meal, which are accepted. GU feels the £120 bill for the meal was ‘a bit steep’ but the meal was good and the evening pleasant.


EU booked the restaurant via the Internet just like BU, IU and GU. The website in EU’s universe allowed for other things to be communicated to the restaurant at the time of booking. EU was able to put in that they were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary that night, where they were coming from, the registration number of the car and any special requests. EU knew there was a lovely view from table three so had requested that table. EU’s confirmatory email showed the time, date, booking reference, a map of how to get to the restaurant, where to park and how long it would take to drive from their postcode to the restaurant and a link to the menu and wine list in case they needed to pre-order any of the dishes. The email also contained the dress code. EU later received a text message with the booking reference, so there was no need to record that separately to take with them.


When EU parked the car, they were met by a member of staff from the restaurant who introduced himself as John and welcomed them by name. John explained which path to take to get to the front door of the restaurant. When EU arrived at the door, it was opened by another member of staff who said “EU, my name is Jane, welcome and thank you very much for choosing us to celebrate your 18th wedding anniversary.” John had called Jane to let her know that EU had arrived and was about to come into the restaurant; John got this information from the registration number of EU’s car!


Peter arrived (Jane had spoken to Peter before EU had arrived at the door) and introduced himself; “Hello EU, I’m Peter, thank you for choosing our establishment to celebrate your 18thwedding anniversary, please follow me to escort you to your table.” EU followed Peter to table three where there was a hand-written post-it note on the vase congratulating them on 18 years of marriage and wishing them a pleasant evening.


At the end of an exceptional meal, EU is presented with a bill for £240 and doesn’t even blink because EU is very happy to pay it as the evening has been wonderful, EU feels like a highly valued client and has been made to feel as if nothing is too much trouble.

Eleven months later, EU received an email from the restaurant asking if he would like to book a table to celebrate his 19th wedding anniversary!


Taking yourself and your staff through the experience your customers will have when buying your services, you are able to see what level of service you offer and where improvements can be made to move it from bad or indifferent or good to exceptional. Once you’ve identified and altered those areas that need improving, and provide the level of customer service experienced by EU, you can charge more even though it doesn’t cost more to produce!


…and don’t forget that a really satisfied customer will be happy to make recommendations to their circle of friends and business contacts.They can become part of your marketing activity without you knowing it!


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