How to be a great customer and get exactly what you want

How to be a great customer

We’ve all seen the comedy skit, with the stereotypical scene of a British couple sitting at a restaurant having received their food, complaining to one another about the overcooked veg, or the undercooked steak. The waiter arrives all smiles and asks, “Is everything ok with your meal?” the grumbling stops, smiles appear and they both say “Yes, lovely thanks”.

But the food is only part of the problem, where they’re seated, how loud the music is, how appropriate the music is in line with the setting, atmosphere etc all these things make for an experience. How often do guests, or customers provide constructive feedback, or any feedback at all, until of course they are in the car on the way home and they start pointing out to one another what they didn’t like, and how awful, over-priced or plain vanilla their experience was. The issue is the service provider never gets to hear it!

You can take this a step further; a great customer knows what he or she wants. I am often laughed at by my friends, family and colleagues when we either travel or dine together (I so wish for those times to return!) what they see as “fussy” I see simply as asking and defining exactly what I would like and how I would like it. I won’t drink a tall drink out of a short glass, or champagne in a park out of a plastic cup. I want my cocktails mixed in a very specific way. Establishments that truly understand customer service get this, expect it and are trained to deliver these bespoke tweaks which places them a cut above the rest. Many of my friends are embarrassed by this, my wife whom I have been with for over 20 years and I have been to many hundreds if not thousands of restaurants. I often joke with her that at no point in time has a single restauranteur or chef managed to assemble a menu which Marlisa has picked a dish from without any changes. It’s always a combination of two or three different dishes. I would like the Salmon, well grilled, I don’t like couscous, can I have it with the broccoli and new potatoes that are usually served with the chicken, oh and I don’t like the energy at this table, can we move to the one that’s unoccupied by the window?

Now, large chain restaurants, much like a large business, will often be thrown by this, they won’t have that combo priced correctly in their till – “sorry sir we can do that but we will have to charge you extra for the potatoes” or worse still “sorry sir the chef can’t (won’t) do that, he’s too busy ”, in the meantime looking around things hardly look “busy”. Now not ALL big restaurant chains are like this, in certain instances local managers and their teams buck the system and offer the levels of service one would expect when dining out. The good ones will have staff trained well enough to avoid tutting, rolling their eyes or point-blank refusing.

Boutique, owner-managed restaurants, or even small chains of luxury establishments also follow a formula, but their service ethos, the fact they are SERVING their customers is top of mind. That’s what amazes me in many businesses in the SERVICE industry, often the word is taken for granted when the truth is it means everything.

Even so, to get the best from these establishments one has to be a great customer. Specify where you would like to sit, specify how you would like your cocktail, specify how you would like your dish prepared if it’s different to what is offered as standard, even exceptionally high standards can and should be personalised to deliver world-class service. There are some, who get ahead of themselves, chefs who determine they know best, and that their opinion and knowledge of food is above your desires, they, put simply have their heads up their bottoms. They aren’t in the service industry. They are in the EGO game.

How does any of this relate to what we at Viadex do? Well, we are in the service industry. If you are reading this, you are one of our customers or a prospective customer. The best way for us to serve you is if you are a great customer and by that, we mean telling us openly and honestly exactly what you want, what you like and dislike, how you want it and like it. This exec level engagement with your team and our experience will allow us to tailor a bespoke experience, we will undoubtedly have suggestions to enhance what you and your team are looking to achieve, based on our experience and our desire to deliver the best possible outcome for you and your business.

The Viadex Way is about being transparent with our customers, not playing poker, but offering the best business-level advice to you and your business. We deal with mid-market companies that have a global presence, each and every customer has a Viadex exec sponsor with 15 years of leadership experience in this space. I love interacting with our customers, and welcome feedback good or bad directly. If you have any – let me know dino.cooper@viadex.com