Friday, June 10, 2005
Led Zeppelin may have known a thing or two about the Service Industry. Being that I work in the luxury service industry I often watch how businesses service their customers. Since service related business is one of the "oldest professions" in existence there really isn't much new and "revolutionary" in the business model; however I believe that there are those who are doing it better. I like to take the knowledge others and apply it to my job. If I am at a restaurant I take mental notes of bad service and good service. Last night my wife and I ate at a local restaurant that has been in business for at least 15 years. The restaurant is known for cheap food and delicious non-alcoholic specialty drinks. Their business idea is simple: provide good, fast, value food in a family friendly atmosphere. I have eaten at this restaurant dozens of times since they opened. Service food and other things are normally good but have had a variety of good and bad experiences with them. We had a great waiter. Our waiter was young and energetic; he was fast friendly and very good at what he did. He did a lot of things "right". He was able to explain the menu, offer his favorites, and explained that his job was to make sure that we had an enjoyable time and if we needed anything he would provide it quickly. The waiter was a man of his word. He was timely with ordering, with bringing extras and provided exceptional service, a rarity in a location that is well known for their poor tipping. Why was this waiter so good? He was friendly, he engaged us with conversation. He sold us on the menu. He used his knowledge of the menu and took clues from our reactions to up sell us, boosting revenue for the restaurant. He provided impeccable service. No empty drinks, no waiting unnecessarily for items. If I were a business owner this waiter would be the perfect employee. The waiter knew his business and knew how to boost sales through good service and a friendly manner.
Now let's look at some bad service. I have had Qwest formally US Worst (US WEST Communications, DSL for a year and a half. I may sound like a former angry US West customer because I am. US West once told me it would take 4 months to get a new phone line installed during their strike in 1997. Telling a loyal customer that it was going to take 4 months was the straw that broke the camel's back. I started my mobile service that same day and have successfully avoided US West until I needed high speed internet in a rural location. I have paid a premium price (translation: a non competitive high price) for my service because I was a captive audience and they were the only gig in town. Through out the service it has been unreliable. I had called tech support which often was answered by a person with a thick India Indian accent with an American name like George. The fact that the tech was Indian doesn't surprise me or even bother me other than they were difficult to understand and often they had no clue as to how to fix my problem. My problem was that during rain, snow, high winds or extreme heat my connection wouldn't work. I rewired it to my telecom box. I believe it was a bad connection between the box at the street and the Central office. Of course Qwest never believed me. The day came that I could tell Qwest to go away. I tried to search online to do this, I tried finding a phone number but there was nothing. It took me 20 minutes to find the number to call to get it unhooked. After calling the number I was redirected no less than 4 times after following lengthy messages and menu selections. I was even hung up on twice.
Business is business and if you neglect your customer you will lose business. Qwest was arrogant enough to believe that good service doesn't really matter and that their business will last forever. This is sadly a mistake. Qwest has had all kinds of financial problems and the biggest reason is poor service. Customers are willing to pay a little more to have good service. I think it's the Wal-Mart backlash. While cheap prices will always grow a business; better service will make a business last.