The Secret to Outstanding Customer Service


I’ve been paying very close attention to customer service lately. It’s amazing how some businesses get it and some fail miserably. I think I’ve finally put my finger on what makes customer service “good”. But first a couple of stories.

A while back our family went to eat at a local Mexican restaurant. We were planning on a nice quick dinner (hence the Mexican option) and then see a show at our community theatre. Everything was going just fine until we walked in the door. It pretty much went downhill from there. Here’s just a partial list:

  • We had to ask for menus. Now I’m no expert in restaurant management. I have never worked a day of my life in a food establishment, but I’m reasonably certain that giving your customers a menu is a top priority. Perhaps second only to…ummm…no I’m pretty sure it’s the top priority.
  • We had to ask for chips and salsa. I hear that some Mexican restaurants give them to their customers without a specific request.
  • We could barely understand our waitress. Not because of any accent or language barrier. She talked so softly and she seemed downright unhappy to be there. I don’t think she smiled even once.
  • The food took an extraordinarily long time to be cooked and brought to our table. Most Mexican restaurants I go to seem to be clairvoyant and bring the exact food you ordered before you even place the order.
  • They goofed up two of the four orders. Our low-talking waitress was quick to point the blame finger at the kitchen staff (several times).

On the whole, it was a miserable dining experience (the show was fantastic by the way). We will NEVER eat there again. They will never get a second chance to make a good first impression with me.

A few weeks later, I traveled to Pennsylvania. A colleague and I flew into Philadelphia and rented a car to drive to Harrisburg. (Note to self: Try to find out why Pittsburgh ends with an “h”, but Harrisburg ends with just the “g”.)

From the moment we stepped onto the Enterprise shuttle bus we felt like we were their most important customer of the day. The driver was genuinely friendly. He told us his name (Bidwell, in case you were wondering), he asked how our flight was, and proceeded to tell us we’d be at the lot in just three minutes.

Once off the bus a young man welcomed us and had our paperwork ready within minutes. I didn’t need an upgrade but he said we were welcome to take a larger vehicle anyway.

Last stop was to give the guy at the exit booth the paperwork. Again, he greeted us with a smile and promptly took care of us and we were on our way.

I’ve rented a lot of cars in my day. Some experiences were downright painful. This was not an isolated experience with Enterprise either. Two weeks prior I rented from them in Utah. The attitudes of their employees were equally positive.

I will rent from Enterprise again.

So what is the secret? Treat every customer as if you were expecting them. The Mexican restaurant treated us as if they weren’t expecting us to walk in the door. Enterprise treated us as if we were long lost friends and were thrilled to see us again.

We are all in customer service regardless of our profession. How are you treating your customers?