Reviews Published

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What is good service?

A long long time ago, in a kingdom far far away... well, anyway, in one of my previous jobs I dabbled in marketing and read marketing magazines (yes, so long ago that they were real paper magazines). Years later, I remember only one article (telling, isn’t it), about what makes good service.

In a research exercise, the authors of the article asked conference attendants what makes a good tea break in terms of service. The attendants listed the following:
· A variety of tea bags, including green, jasmine, herbal
· Freshly brewed coffee, preferably a choice of espresso, cappuccino, etc.
· Access to free telephone calls and a messaging service (as I said, this was a long time ago, in the pre- cell phone era)
· Smiling helpful conscientious staff
· Thick paper napkins
· Thin china cups
· Home-baked muffins and pastries
· ... and other luxuries.

Then the authors asked the tea-serving staff at the conference facilities what they considered good morning tea service. Their answers? See for yourself:
· Clean cups
· Hot water for tea must be really hot
· Clean tablecloths
· Tea served on time
· No flies.

What? No flies? No flies? And clean cups? Isn’t it so elementary that it doesn’t need to be mentioned?

Evidently not. Everywhere I go, I see examples of people delivering a service that leaves a lot to be desired: from insensitive airport staff to uncaring salespeople. For example, I bought a waterproof jacket at The Warehouse today. As I passed security, my bag beeped. I went back in, where a bored member of the staff gave my jacket a cursory glance before waving me through. “But won’t it beep again next time I come into the shop wearing the jacket?” I asked. She shrugged. I went back home, located the security tag and failed to detach it. So now I’ll have to waste more time going back to the shop, proving that I’ve already paid for the jacket and getting them to untag it. Grrr!

Fortunately, I also encounter (rarer) examples of great service. Imagine a panel-beating shop that not only gives you a courtesy car with a requested anchor point for a child car seat, but also returns your repaired car with a spotlessly vacuumed and dusted interior. I kid you not, and you can call if you don’t believe me.

I’ve just read somewhere else that if you like a service, you tell 3 people. If you don’t like it, you tell 33 people. Makes you think, no?

Do you have a favourite gripe or words of praise? Let’s hear them.

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