Communication Works

Having a virtual office does mean that you spend a bit of time in cafés, drinking coffee as you discuss strategy with your business partner.

While Campbell Live's recent anecdotal evidence suggests that people are reluctant to give up their little luxuries, such as coffee, the evidence should also be a reminder to café owners that they still need to provide seriously good customer service.

Seriously good customer service has many facets, but one of the most basic concepts clearly links customer satisfaction with increased profit.  This means that if you provide great customer service, then you not only retain the business of your existing customer, but those customers become walking advertisements for your business, resulting in new custom.  This word of mouth advertising costs nothing.

When existing customers repeat visits are combined with visits from new customers, your bottom line improves.  It really can, and should be, that simple.

So why do so very many cafés act as if they don't care? And how can they prove to you that they do care?

Here's an example.  Sarah Fechney owns Ground Floor Café in Riccarton Rd, Christchurch. It's down the Hagley Park end of Riccarton Rd, near the Corner of Mandeville St.  She doesn't have the best date scones in town (you'll find the best date scones at Oddfellows Café on the corner of Disraeli and Selwyn St), but Sarah does have outstanding customer service.  Let me explain.

Most of us like something free, otherwise we wouldn't bother having our wallets stuffed with the ‘Every 10th (or 8th, or even 5th) coffee free' cards.  If we're a regular customer, it's great to think that our loyalty will be rewarded with a free coffee every now and then.  The worst part of the process, of course, is locating the card in your wallet.  Ground Floor Café goes one better than that and has your coffee tally loaded on a swipe card, on which you can also load money (much like a debit card), but only if you want to.  You can then choose to either keep the card in your own wallet, or leave it with the café.

So what, you may be asking?  Plenty of people do that.  But here's where Ground Floor Café's customer service excels.  Let me explain.  A month ago, just after I'd initiated my coffee card at the café, I met a client in the café, who happened to be paying for my coffee.  At the time of payment, by my client, Sarah leaned over and said to me "I'm sorry, I can't remember your last name, but it's Sue, isn't it?  I'd just like to make sure you get your coffees recorded on your card".  And she then proceeded to swipe my card twice to load the two coffees (not paid for by me) onto my card.

What this demonstrates is that Sarah ‘gets it'.  She understands the importance of generating goodwill with her customer. She didn't have to record those coffees on my card; I wasn't even paying for them. But in doing so, she not only exceeded my expectations, she actually proved that customers are important to her.

There are a couple of often quoted customer service maxims.  One is that we should exceed the expectations of the customer, which Sarah did.  Another is to keep the goodwill of every customer in every transaction.  Sarah wins on both levels and as a consequence, she not only keeps my business, but she now has a walking advertisement (me) that costs her nothing.

Why don't more café owners ‘get it'?

Written by Sue Saunders

"To travel hopefully is better than to arrive!" Well, so wrote Robert Louis Stevenson and it's the kind of aphorism that can very easily be applied to all manner of things and is certainly not a concept restricted to tourism. Here at Communication Works we have been on quite a ‘journey' as we have navigated the various hills and valleys involved in getting a website for our corporate communication training and services consultancy up and running. It's been a real learning curve for our team but we're really excited to know that although we've arrived at the website launch, the journey is in fact just beginning.

We remain as committed to excellence in communication as ever, and in this blog we'll be extolling the virtues of individuals and organisations that demonstrate excellence in their corporate communication and customer service. We'll also be pointing out where companies can lift their game and build credibility, enhance their image and reputation, and become more customer-focussed!

Since communication is our business, and as our name implies we believe that when conducted effectively communication works, I was really surprised that when I decided to purchase a new iPhone recently that both sales people I dealt with came up short on the effective communication scale. Actually both sales people were very pleasant; the first, a male, was exceedingly friendly and courteous. The problem was that he told me blatant lies about the availability of the iPhone device: apparently there were only 50 iPhones coming into the country, and he had a waiting list of at least 50 people for the six iPhones coming into his shop! Not only was it not true that only 50 new iPhones were coming into the country, but then he completely misrepresented the specific details of the Vodofone plan which accompanied the purchase of this delicious little piece of technology.

Fortunately, I tried another franchise selling iPhones. My next sales person was a female; again she was charming and efficient. However, after purchasing my iPhone, I realised that I didn't have some vital information to enable me to import my contacts, photos and videos from my old phone to my new iPhone.  I know, I know...I should have asked about this but in all the excitement I forgot. Shouldn't a great salesperson anticipate that since you've just changed your phone and moved to a new plan, you'll probably have some important information that you'll want to retain: contacts! Wouldn't you expect the salesperson to remind you that you'll need to take action and give you the heads up on doing it? If this wasn't disappointing enough, she was unable to tell me that since I had changed from a pre-pay plan to a contract, my phone wouldn't power-up for 24 hours. Apparently Vodofone hadn't communicated this rather important detail to her. Hmm... great organisation communication from a multinational telco!

Understanding the importance of feedback is so critical if you want to be a really effective communicator and a superb sales person! When you find one of these brilliant sales people please let me know, because despite being vehemently opposed to cloning, I might be persuaded.

At Communication Works, we believe that organisations which recognise the importance of excellent communication with all their stakeholders, make the journey, and the arrival so good, everyone wants to travel with them again. That's part of the secret of using communication effectively so that it really WORKS!


Written by Desiree Williamson


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