Customer service is the backbone of every business and how you deal with your customers can make or break you … so it’s VITAL to get it right!

Let me share a story of a local business that got it wrong over the weekend …

We met up with my best friend and her kids on Sunday to go out for lunch. With 4 adults and 6 kids we didn’t want to go anywhere fancy, we just wanted some good pub grub with somewhere for the kids to play safely.

So, we went to a country pub a few miles away which was an adventure in itself as we had to go down lots of narrow country lanes and the pub was set in idyllic views right next to the river with its own playground – all plus points for us so we were happy.

We’d booked a table as we were a group of 10 and we needed a highchair so we wanted to make sure we got a table in case the pub was busy. We rock up and it’s soon obvious that they are a little understaffed which was not a problem for us, we’re happy to wait a little longer if needbe.

We ordered our drinks at the bar and noted that the girl serving seemed a little off but we thought nothing off it so we sat down at our table where we were busy chatting and watching the kids play to wait for the food. After about 15 minutes, the food is brought out and it was piping hot (had to ask for a cold plate for Ripley) with extra gravy and cheesy leeks (never had them before but there were super yummy). All happy here, everyone loved their food and looking forward to puddings which we ordered. Again, these were truly yummy and soon had clean bowls!

Now, this is where things started to go wrong. We go to the bar to pay the bill and we are stood there for a good 10 minutes and in this time we witness some truly shocking customer service where it was blatantly obvious that the person was totally over her head and in the wrong job. Now, I don’t know if she was just super stressed or having a bad day and is normally a ray of sunshine, but our experience at this pub, with the absolutely yummy food, will be tarred by this 1 person!

The pub own a camping and caravan site next door so they have people coming in to pay for pitch fees and booking their tent or caravan into the site. This one customer wanted to make a very simple booking and the staff member was a little stroppy to say the least. She firstly gave out the wrong price, just walked off halfway through the customer talking to her, ended up confusing the customer so she only booked one night and then when she was trying to pay by card, the machine was snatched out of her hand when it wasn’t working and blamed the customer for doing it wrong. At this time, a lady at the bar waiting to be served caught the eye of the staff member who told her rudely “I’ll be with you soon, dealing with this and then these other customers are waiting (me and my friend) so you’ll have to wait”. The customer said “I was just smiling” to which she was told “I know what that means”.

These might sound quite trivial but when we were there, we were all looking at each other in shock that this staff member was behaving this way to the point that when we went outside we were joking that you’d go hungry and thirsty before going back in to deal with them! We were trying to make a joke about it as it was so shocking the behaviour and it will tar our experience of that pub to the point that we will not be going back and we definitely won’t recommend anything to do with the pub (whether the pub, caravan or camp site) which is a shame as the food was great.

What lessons can we learn from this?

  • Make sure that all your staff are trained in customer service so that anyone can step in to that role if needbe
  • Be clear on pricing and products to avoid misunderstandings
  • Play to the strengths of your staff and make sure the roles they do utilise these skills
  • If you are understaffed, tell customers and they’ll understand

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