Written by Elisabete Zubiarrain for Buljan & Partners Consulting
A few weeks ago, I traveled with my family to three different cities in the United States, a leader in customer service. Although I realized that we still have a long way to go, I confirmed that the key element is people.
When I travel, I notice everything that is new, everything that is different to my usual surroundings. Eager to enjoy the cultural and gastronomic differences, we visited all types of bars, restaurants and cultural attractions. The first thing that caught my attention was the size of customer service teams. Actually, I paid attention to all of work teams, but I am focusing on those dedicated to customer service. Another remarkable aspect is the extended opening hours of businesses which, of course, is possible thanks to large teams.
I’d like to continue by telling you about the fact that we saw trainees at several restaurants. They accompanied an experienced employee everywhere and observed what they did, while the experienced employee explained what they were doing. Furthermore, it was very interesting to see that every restaurant used quite a similar formula to greet, welcome and say goodbye to their customers. Two restaurants of the same chain used an identical formula (it was the same word for word). The process was quite polished.
I must also mention the technological support that many businesses had, from an electronic menu on a tablet fixed to the table, to Wi-Fi for customers, games on the tablets for children (for a fee), and a payment app where you could see your bill on the screen, pay by card, sign the receipt, and send the invoice to your email or print it.
All the restaurants used similar state-of-the-art technology and almost identical processes, what ultimately differentiated customer experience was people. If an employee welcomed you with a genuine smile and showed passion for their work, you could expect that they would serve you with care and they would be flexible if you had any special requests.
Processes are learned and executed, technology is introduced and learned, but vocation and passion for good work are characteristics that come from people. When someone does their job knowing that it is important and willing to do it well, they smile unintentionally and their smile reflects on the faces of their customers, who receive an extraordinary experience that makes eating special.
Without playing down the importance of processes and technology, I cannot help highlighting human value as the differentiating element of customer experience.
Elisabete Zubiarrain is HR responsible at Buljan & Partners Consulting. Eli is specialist in Talent management and HR recruiting accross several industries at Buljan since 2010.
More on Elisabete: