The Pickle in Customer Service

Ask a dissatisfied customer: what would have made your customer service experience better? Now ask yourself what are you doing to make a difference?

The Pickle in Customer Service image customer experience communication1Give the customer the pickle. That’s right, the pickle. Not a real pickle, unless you serve pickles of course, I’m referring to the old customer service story that’s been floating around the hospitality industry for what seems like decades.

In case you’re unfamiliar, there are many versions, but they all tend to run along the lines of; a man had been coming into the same restaurant for years.

He always ordered the same thing: A club sandwich and a small soda with an extra pickle on the side.

One day, however, he shuffled up to the counter, placed his order and the young lady at the cash register announced, ‘A side of pickles will be $1 extra.’

He explained he’d been a loyal customer for years and only wanted one extra. After speaking to the manager the young lady came back and repeated to him, ‘A side of pickles will be $1 extra.’ That man left and wrote a letter to the manager telling him exactly what he could do with his extra pickle.

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That manager took the man’s letter as an opportunity for improvement. He was able to win the customer back through a personal hand-written note, and over the years ‘give the customer the pickle’ has become a bit of a motto among hospitality staff.

Make the most of every customer service complaint

Especially with an every growing audience on review sites, it has become increasingly important to meet customer expectations and respond so customer complaints in an appropriate way. Unfortunately, an extremely low percentage of customers choose to complain, so reason stands the ones that do are looking to engage with you—the business owner.

For example; if you own a linen service and receive a customer complaint from someone who found a company through your service and was appalled by the quality, integrity, inventory or any other aspect of their service, it is your job to follow up on this complaint. Just as a manager in a restaurant would ask specifically what about the meal or service went wrong and could be improved, you should do the same—regardless of the industry you work in.

Before you think you know what is good customer service or decide on the importance of customer service, or even begin your first customer service training, step back and get a good picture of what great customer service really looks like.

Ask a dissatisfied customer: what would have made your customer service experience better? Now ask yourself what are you doing to make a difference?

Follow through and be consistent when handling customer complaints

More customers are doing their shopping online, whether it be for home goods, hotel rooms, places to eat or services.

A good website has become essential, but can also be your downfall if the site makes promises you aren’t able to follow through on in reality.

Take the hotel industry for example. If you feature photos of rooms with plush linens and bedspreads, deep Jacuzzi tubs with daily clean towel service, and a restaurant with perfect plates and crisp matching restaurant linens that is exactly what you need to deliver to guests in person.

The reverse is true too, however. Don’t sell yourself short by leaving outdated descriptions or photos on your site if you’ve undergone a recent remodel. Always give the customer an updated and accurate impression of the services or goods they should expect to receive.

Bringing it all together to improve customer care

Whether your industries pickle is a small complimentary item, a handwritten thank-you, beautifully swirled designs in coffee foam or extra savings for loyal customers, if you want to truly create a sustainable brand that has customers return year after year, don’t simply satisfy customer expectations. Meet them and exceed them.

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