Over a coffee this afternoon, I decided to read the emailed newsletter from one of my suppliers for a change. Y’know the thing? You get sent them regularly, but never bother reading them. I s’pose the difference with this one was that it came this time from their joint MD, whom I happened to meet briefly in Cape Town earlier this year.
He began with a rant (a man after my own heart, then) about “the customer is not always right”, with the delicious intro of “in a service industry, and by that I mean an industry where the customer has a longer term relationship with the supplier than buying a chocolate bar, this mantra has developed into an auto-response to any tricky situation, reached without thought.”
And he gave a cracking example of where in a swish restaurant someone sent a hollandaise sauce back, the eventual returning message being the chef says ‘your problem’, and a 40-cover booking was unknowingly lost.
His solution is for more communication even when, as in the above case, hiding in the kitchen seems the comfortable way forward. This approach builds a better relationship from trust and understanding of each other’s viewpoints, to “a long term and loyal customer who gives us the benefit of the doubt”.