Good Manners Don’t ‘Costa Lot’
This week I visited my regular takeaway coffee franchise at Mile End roundabout services at the gateway to the market town of Oswestry in Shropshire. I was at the counter a full two minutes before the barista bothered to acknowledge me. I needed the hit so I hung on. Subtle rattling of car keys alerted him to my presence. “It’ll be a few minutes,” he said without barest hint of apology, “I’m in the middle of training her.” He casually gestured toward a young woman.
Were it not for my teenage daughter standing by me I would have robustly disabused him of his priorities, but she suffers from Post Traumatic Stroppy Mother Syndrome so I waited… and waited… and waited some more. A full seven minutes later he finally despatched his junior colleague to take our order. “May I have a Peach Iced Tea please?” my daughter asked. “We ‘aven’t got any left,” came the dull, unapologetic reply. I felt my girl’s body stiffen in anticipation of a double-barrelled onslaught from mother. It never came.
Instead, I invited her to order something else and smiled, ever so sweetly at the poor unfortunate thing behind the counter who sadly, has been raised without heed to simple good manners, nor apparently afforded even the most modest briefing on customer service expectations by her employers.
It may have been her first day. We may even have been her first ever customers. But that’s no excuse. Manners maketh man as my own mother was wont to say. Given the girl’s mature trainer is one of the most ill-mannered individuals this side of Christendom I hold out scant hope for her progress. Outstanding service is arguably a customer-facing organisation’s greatest marketing tool. Outstanding service is great free PR and enhances reputation through third party word of mouth endorsement.
There are several Oswestry businesses that do it brilliantly like Gooseberry Baby Shop, Honeysuckle, Booka Bookshop, Timpson, BBR Opticians, Upstairs Downstairs Cookshop, Siop Cwlwm in the market and Lindsay’s Eatery at the Willow Gallery. There’s a simple reason these outlets are thriving. They ‘get’ customer service. They engage brilliantly with their customers – owners and colleagues alike – and wholeheartedly embrace the bend over backwards ethic that is the cornerstone of great customer service. It’s so simple, yet too many organisations, retailers and restaurants in particular, fail to grasp it.