Let's talk for a minute...

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Let’s talk… about customer service. Everywhere a customer enters and patronizes a business, customer service should be the most important thing a business provides. Employees who are engaged and interested make the difference between creating a repeat customer and a one-time shopper. This cannot be any more important than in the restaurant and prepared food business.

There are many times when the employees and the owners are amazing, and they make me feel like I want to stay … longer. Their attention, politeness, interest and overall general demeanor can be very refreshing. There are other times where I have walked in, turned around and walked out. According to a May 17, 2018 Forbes Magazine article written by Shep Hyken, (Hyken, "Businesses Lose $75 Billion Due To Poor Customer Service", 2018), 39% of people surveyed about poor customer service said they would never go back to a place where they were treated poorly. According to the article, customers have expectations about how they should be treated by employees of a company where they are spending money.

Here are some examples of both …

Fast food – Taco Bell, 1135 Easton Ave, Somerset, NJ – I have visited this store many times over the six years that I have lived in the area. Sometimes the people behind the counter are fairly nice in all aspects. Overall politeness, salutations and smiles have greeted me as I approached the counter. Sometimes, however, more recently than in the past, I have been greeted with blank stares, no “hello sir” or “may I help you or anything.” When I turned around and walked toward the door, the cashier wished me a good day.

Another example of poor customer service occurred at a bagel shop where I frequented every Saturday morning for about a year. During my last visit, at least a year ago, I walked up to the counter, the two people behind the counter, the same two people who attended me every week, glanced at me and turned their backs. The store was empty of any other customers at the moment. Neither of the clerks was completing other orders or performing any tasks. I stood there for about five minutes thinking I would give them time because maybe they were finishing up a task that just wasn’t visibly apparent to me. After five minutes I asked for assistance and in response, one of the clerks walked in to the back room and other walked away from the counter. As a result, I left the bottled iced tea that I had taken from the refrigerator on the counter and walked out. Since that day, I never addressed a complaint to anybody and I never went back. That’s the point of poor customer service, especially in the hyper competitive prepared food business. Many times, a customer will stop patronizing a business and the business owners will never know why.

On the flip side, according to the Forbes article, when a customer has experienced good service, 66% of customers would return and 48% would spend more money. For example, I had the opportunity to spend a night at the new hotel, Asbury Ocean Club in Asbury Park, NJ.

Customer service, Good Food, Fine Dining
Ocean Club, Asbury Park, NJ

The customer service at the hotel was the most amazing experience I have ever had at a hotel. From the moment we entered the small lobby on the first floor, the employees greeted us like we were old friends and treated us like we were royalty. When we arrived in our hotel room, there was a ice bucket filled with champagne and a note welcoming us. About 15 minutes after we arrived somebody knocked on the door to bring in some sweets, just to welcome us again. Later in the evening we ordered room service. At the time of the visit the hotel didn’t have an onsite restaurant but did have a full room service menu. Well we decided we wanted waffles and within about 15 minutes of ordering them, they were at our door. The waffles were piping hot, light and fluffy. They were delish! A final knock on the door was the delivery of another bottle of champagne, complements of the house. We stayed in one of the suites facing the ocean and I swear I felt like I was in a fully equipped apartment. There were two, yes two, full baths and bedroom, kitchenette with a dining table for six and a huge living room. The outer walls were floor to ceiling windows with billowy white curtains that blew in the breeze. The balcony wrapped around from one side of the suite, all the away around to the other side connecting the kitchen, living room and the bedroom and all facing the ocean, which was literally across the street.

Outside of the suite the halls were quiet but as we walked toward the lobby we found a huge open space that was set up like a living room with lots of seating areas for groups to sit and have a conversation. Right outside of this area was the pool deck, complete with an outdoor bar. When I think of a resort, normally an image of a Caribbean hotel comes to mind, well this hotel had the same vibe and all the same amenities. If you ever have the chance to splurge a little for a mini vacation, this place will meet your mini vacation needs. Tying it all back to customer service demonstrates, that while yes, a hotel is in the customer service business, the staff of a hotel can make your experience very memorable in a good way or in a negative way. Both would shape your interactions with the hotel in the future.

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