During my last visit to Chicago, I went with two other people to Au Cheval for a burger. It was the usual two-hour wait and we made sure to fill up a little while waiting. Hangry Jenn is no fun. The part that stood out to me the most was the moment I ordered my food.
I ordered a double cheeseburger (which is actually three patties for an overall six inches of burger height), chopped chicken liver with toast, and a crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy. That’s one appetizer and two main dishes.
The server took my order down without batting an eye, turned to my boyfriend, and asked him, “And what would you like today?”
This 10-second exchange won me over.
There was no assumption here that I was sharing with anyone (truthfully, these were going to be shared plates), no condescending suggestion that perhaps I should order less, and no questioning eyebrow raise at what was undoubtedly a large portion size.
I remember this exchange vividly and have been ruminating on it for a while. Why is it that it stood out so much in my mind?
The gap between decent customer service and stellar customer service is small. We expect poor service, setting the bar low after one-too-many frustrating calls to the cable company.
So when decent service comes along, like the barista smiling at you and asking how your day went, you’re pleased about it. But when the barista remembers your order and has it started before you even utter the words, you’re ecstatic.
I don’t think it takes much to elevate that customer service experience.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Kick-Ass Customer Service,” the authors identified seven types of customer service representatives. The two they focused on the most were the Controller (outspoken, opinionated, assertive in directing the customer service experience) and the Empathizer (seeks to understand behavior, listens sympathetically).
You would think that the Empathizer would have the most successful interactions, but instead, the Controller won out of all seven types. They ended up taking charge and guiding the customers to a suitable solution. Turns out, customers want direct communication with tangible results. It doesn’t mean you throw empathy out the window.
All the server did was write down and confirm my order. He was pleasant and efficient. He said much more by not saying anything at all.