There are two small businesses that I frequent near my Minneapolis suburban home. The first I do so out of loyalty – they rock. The second I visit because my family wants to – despite my ongoing objections. Let’s quickly examine the difference between the two customer experiences and see what they can teach us.
Von Hanson’s Meat Market - http://www.vonhansons.com/ - feels like an old-fashioned butcher shop. The product is excellent and I cannot remember ever having a bad experience with their food. But more noticeably, the customer service they deliver is outstanding. The folks they hire behind the counter are fast, always friendly, courteous and consistently professional. I’ve never asked a question they couldn’t answer and every single employee I’ve encountered there appeared to take ownership for their store and the products they sell.
I’ve never been to an Everything Wine location in Vancouver - http://www.everythingwine.ca/ - but the way that Fast Company describes them - http://www.fastcompany.com/1598020/the-surprising-secret-to-breakth... - leads me to believe that Von Hansen’s is their Butcher Shop equivalent.
On the other side of the customer service equation is a local bakery that sells Maple Long Johns to my wife and children. They bill themselves as a European bakery, and by all accounts they do make a mean Boule or Scone. But of the many times I’ve been in the establishment, I can only think of maybe one or two times that left me with the impression they appreciated our business. The counter-service is distracted and often rude, the employees have not handled product questions well, and they appear to take zero ownership in the business or the service they deliver.
So what am I to assume about the employees or owners of these two establishments? Can I laud the customer service focus of the Von Hanson’s teens while lamenting the attitude of those working at the bakery? Or is it fair to believe that the front line employees learn and espouse the attitudes and priorities of their leaders?
I’d like to think there are two things going on at Von Hanson’s that is making them consistently great. First, they are hiring the right young talent. There are plenty of young folks looking for work but they clearly have a knack for identifying and selecting new hires that will dedicate themselves to delivering top notch customer service. As important though, they clearly train their new hires that serving their customers in the “Von Hanson’s way” is priority number one.
So is the bakery guilty of bad hiring or poor training? Both? I guess the only way they’ll be prompted to figure it out is if enough customers stop allowing sugary goodness to trump basic customer service standards. Or maybe that is the lesson to be learned (be it good or bad)…that if a product is of high enough quality it just won’t matter to people how it is delivered! I’m going to hold out hope that customers can expect both a great product and a great customer experience.