If you want to know the difference between a good business and a great business, it's simple: Good businesses have good customer service, and great companies have - you guessed it - great service. When it comes to running an enterprise, it doesn't matter whether you're in a law firm, a major tech company or a video store (if any of those still exist) - the customer always represents the single most important element. As such, it's vital to channel the most creative energy and work hours into devising the best patron experience possible. Whether that means implementing a unified communications solution in order to better connect with customers or having more sales that reward loyal patrons, it's important to go that extra mile for your patrons. To help you get there, we've chosen to highlight some businesses whose service really encapsulates what the customer experience should be:
- Zingerman's (Ann Arbor, MI): Walk into Zingerman's in the heart of Ann Arbor and you wouldn't be blamed for assuming that it's just another small-town sandwich place. Believe us, it's anything but. Sure, the food is absolutely delectable - particularly the famed Reuben - but what's really made Zingerman's far more than an Ann Arbor staple (its reputation extends countrywide) is the strength of its customer service. So how does this $12 million a year sandwich shop (yep, you read that right) harness customer service to perform supremely well? As Zingerman's corporate trainer Stas Kazmierski explained to a group of hundreds of eager businesspeople, it all boils down to what the store calls the "10-4" rule, according to MLive.
"When a customer is within 10 feet of a staff member, we make eye contact and smile," he said of the store's staffers. "Within four feet, we greet the customer and engage them in conversation. This applies to internal customers as well, like co-workers."
So wait, it's that easy? Maybe, but that's assuming that effectively engaging with customers is easy - which it's not. Therefore, Zingerman's has its new hires go through extensive training to adopt and then reflect the business' ethos. The store's co-owner, Ari Weinzweig, even published a book based on the store's training model. The hard work has paid off: In addition to being a city hotspot for decades, it's also Barack Obama's go-to sandwich place when he stops by Ann Arbor. That's just about as good an endorsement as any.
- OTTO Uomo (London): If your career goal is to make and sell fine suits to men, let us be the first to tell you that competition is pretty steep. From the Alfani three-piece you could pick up at Macy's to the custom-made looker you could find in a Sak's Fifth Avenue, practically every menswear designer has tried - some with success and some not so much - to do a suiting line. If you're a relatively small-scale suit designer looking to capture a niche, how do you go about doing that? Through singularly awesome customer service, of course.
Follow us, if you will, to the elegant interior of OTTO Uomo in London, a clothing store whose business creed is "make it beautiful, make it fit, make it well." But this slogan applies just as much to the establishment's customer service as it does to the garments within the store. As founder Tony Giallonardo explained in a video for EliteTravelerTV, "OTTO is the ultimate shopping experience for a man." Instead of looking like a department store with mounds upon mounds of factory-churned fabric, OTTO's interior was designed to look like a home - and it's a place where patrons can immediately feel comfortable. When a client comes in, he doesn't have to worry about being confronted by an overeager salesperson desperate to make a sale. Instead, the prospect can look forward to a casual chat with Giallonardo, followed by a nice drink over which they can really dive into what they want their wardrobe to look like. As Giallonardo pointed out, sometimes these consultations will go on for so long that employee and prospect will end up having a meal right there in the store. In this way, the store's customer service has been tailored to match the class of its offerings.
- Amazon.com: Customer service isn't confined to a physical store. In fact, in a 2014 customer service poll, online megastore Amazon topped the list, according to USAToday. So what does a service that conducts its business online do so well? Everything, basically. The website is designed to provide the most user-friendly experience possible. In addition to advanced personalization features that suggest products based on previous purchases, Amazon has a first-rate returns system and is easy to get in touch with if any questions arise.
Here at Fonality, we think nothing makes a company like customer service. Are you doing everything you can to create the best patron experience possible?