In search of… Customer Service

When you or I go into any place that caters to the needs of the buying or dining public, we expect a certain level of customer service. It is not something that you expect to have to ask for, it should just BE there.

My favorite example of someplace that has exceptional customer service, at least in every visit I have made to the place, is a little restaurant here in Bakersfield called Spencer’s. Specifically the one on McNair, but both locations in town are great.

The staff there is wonderful to everyone and not just the regulars like my wife and I, but to everyone. I see the interaction between the waitress’ and the clients, and there is rarely anything that even looks like they are unhappy in what they are doing. They almost always have smiles on their faces and are always working hard to make sure everyone is taken care of.

Sometimes it is fun to watch them work because they get along so well there. Like this last Sunday when the wife and I went it, and sat at the counter to eat. At one point three of the waitress’ started dancing and singing that silly song from the commercial, “…it must have been a typo, typo, typo…” because someone did not get what they ordered.

The kind of teamwork and customer service you see in places like this seems to be becoming more and more rare these days. The team that they have working at this place is becoming an exception to what the industry should have as their default behavior.

Another example of great customer service, but on a smaller and different scale is a little place calls Great Central Steak and Hogie.  They are a small little shop that might be able to seat about fifteen with some effort.  Their food is pretty good, but what really sells this place for me is the employees.  They are friendly to everyone that comes in, even the people that are trying to sell them something.  The two owners, Alex and Paul, are the kind of people that, once you get to know them, will talk to you about anything.  Even give advice to people if they ask.

These were both examples of great customer service.  Places that you can go and know that you will be taken care of and leave happy.  These are places that I suggest to anyone that asks where they can get something good to eat.  The problem with the list of places that have given me bad service… well that is just too long to mention… so I will just go over some points I notice.

Any more, most of the chains are designed to take care of you in such a manner where their idea of customer service becomes an “assembly line” process.  Each person is greeted with the same mechanical, monotone smile and “Hi… welcome to… <insert restaurant name here>”, leaving you feeling like you just met a Audio-Animatronic that escaped from Disneyland.  Add to this that most chains are almost the same thing…  they sell similar foods, sever similar drinks, the waiters and waitress’ all start looking the same and you begin be bogged down in the monotony.  A good example of this for me is Hooters.  They were great when they first came out, but now they have expanded to the point were it’s like… who cares.  Great, girls in tight tops, wow… who has not done that nowadays?

Unlike most guys, I do not tip based on looks.  If the waitress helping me looks great, but has the customer service skills of a snob with Alzheimer’s, then they are still not getting a tip.  I do not care if they are built like Pamela Anderson and wearing shorts and a top that are five sizes too small.  On the other hand, if the service is great, my drink is refilled before I need it and the food is good and served before it gets cold, then I don’t care if the waitress looks like she could win an Earnst Bognine look-a-like contest on a bad hair day, I will tip her well.

Any more, I tend to like to go to the small, “hole-in-the-wall” places to eat.  They are usually family owned and operated, most of their staff is usually family or friends of the owner and they are not out to rake in cash for the sake of getting rich.  They are doing it because it is a labor of love.  That shows, when it comes right down to it.

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