Posted January 4, 2014
At least 3-4 times a year, I make a trip back to Southern California. With every trip, a few things are always involved… plane tickets, car rentals, going out to eat, and seeing family and friends. Three of the four items got me thinking of something… customer service. Even in this last trip, I’ve had to do deal with customer service a lot because of flight cancellations. Of course, we often associate customer service with talking to an agent on the phone or for specific services, but in food, customer service has a lot to do with your overall experience as well. Customer service also affects our overall impressions of a company or a place.
Today, we ate at one of favorite places, Soup Plantation. Soup Plantation is more of a buffet style experience, so the workers out on the dining area are mainly collecting used dishes and making sure the dining area is clean. One impression that my wife and I have always had, no matter what Soup Plantation location we go to, is that the workers there are polite and courteous. On the flip side, the other day we went to Chef Hung Noodes and I asked my wife how the food was after we had left. She said that it was okay but the service was quite lacking. It was lacking enough that it took away from her experience of the food.
In renting a car, my rental company of choice is usually Enterprise Renta-A-Car. I usually go with them because they have pretty competitive prices but also they have exceptional service. This time, I waited too long to reserve a car, so I went with a different company, Advantage Rent A Car. Let me first off start by saying that I didn’t have a bad experience with them. Actually, all the workers were very friendly. When I first approached the man behind the counter, he was in the middle of something, which is totally fine, but the way he greeted me is what stood out. He said, “Be right with you homie.” That didn’t bother me but it left an impression on me. After finishing with the guy at the counter, I went to the garage area to pick up my rental car where there was another man to greet me. This time what stood out was the way he dressed. He did have a long sleeve shirt and slacks on, but it looked like he was dressed ready for a night out on the town. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good experience with Advantage and would use them again if I had to, but if I were to choose between the two companies, I would choose Enterprise by a landslide. Why? It was the overall impression that I got. My overall impression that I got was that Advantage felt like small budget, lower tier company whereas Enterprise seemed to be a more professional, well run company.
The subject of customer service caused me to think of two small incidences. When I was a freshman in college I needed to buy a battery charger. I went to the local Radioshack. When I walked in, I was greeted by an older gentleman and he asked what I was looking for. I asked him, “Can you recommend a battery charger?” His response was, “Of course I’m going to recommend you the most expensive one, it’ll make me more money.” He said it in a joking way, but I got the impression that he was hoping I would get the more expensive one. To make a short story shorter, I didn’t buy a battery charger that day.
In contrast to, about a month ago I was at a Starbucks and I ordered a drink, but I customized the drink a certain way. As the barista was making my, drink she looked up at me and quietly said, “I’m probably not suppose to tell you this, but next time you can just order a …. and it’ll be cheaper.” I responded by saying that I was appreciative of the tip. After that, I was thinking, even though the drink she told me to order would be cheaper, I would probably end up spending more money overall with them because she was willing to give me that tip.
In this current age of trying to save every possible penny, I hope companies realize that they shouldn’t skip out on good customer service and good service in general. Especially as things get more competitive, what separates a good company and a great company is the impressions and experiences they leave with their customers.