Last Friday night, my girlfriend and I went to try out a new restaurant in town that had come with rave reviews both on the service and the food. We were excited. As luck (or misfortune) would have it, we were seated at a table that was overlooking the “cook’s kitchen”, and we could see the preparation of all the meals. The service, as expected, was great. The initial appetizers were unique and also fantastic. This was well on the way to becoming a new favorite restaurant for us. Until…
They ruined it. It was a simple move that changed my mind and took it from a “must eat” to a “never again.” As we were watching the chefs prepare meals, one of them dipped a spoon into a sauté pan, grabbed a bite, and then returned the spoon to the pan to continue cooking! Eeew! We both were disgusted and while the dish being prepared was not ours, it certainly took most (if not all) of the enjoyment from the meal. We both vowed “never again.”
This got me thinking about how fickle and judgmental consumers can be. Sometimes it is warranted (as was the case the other night) and often times not. But to the service supplier, it really does not matter since the consumer is driving the train.
If we are serving the public, we are on display—period. And we always need to make sure our public-facing business is in top shape.
Are you answering the phone promptly? Properly? In a friendly manner? Are your communications error-free? If you have a storefront or a place to meet your clients, is it clean, tidy, and professional? How about you? Are you dressing the part of a professional? Do your documents and marketing material say “Hey, I am a professional and will deliver what you want” to your clients?
If you answered no to any of these, you may be in danger of losing a client before you get a chance to introduce yourself.
Impressions matter. First impressions matter even more. I rarely have clients in my office and at times, it looks like a bomb was dropped on my desk. I am at risk. I do have a fighting chance with an established client who has seen my operation in the past and can explain my way out. But for a new client or prospect—not a chance.
Travel is a big ticket item. People are parting with their hard-earned money and giving it to you (they don’t care that you are giving most of it to someone else) and they have a level of expectation they expect to be met. Sometimes you can guide that level of expectation, but never kid yourself, it is the client that sets it.
Take a look around at your operation. Are you on-point? Or are you licking the spoon?