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Good Service vs. Bad Service--A Lesson for IT

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« Delayed posting for Weeks of 10/19 and 10/26How the Heck Does this Help??? »

Good Service vs. Bad Service--A Lesson for IT

10/14/09

Permalink 04:17:52 pm, Categories: IT Leadership, Business Leadership

OK, this post may seem totally off-topic, but stick with me. There is much to be learned!

Two weekends ago, a friend and I were in San Francisco. I had read about a relatively new restaurant, Zinnia, in Conde Nast Traveler Magazine and wanted to try it out. Conde Nast has often provided me with good leads on restaurants and I have been quite pleased; however, this experience is not one that was favorable!

We arrived at the restaurant at 7:56p without reservations; however, when we walked in, the restuarant was, perhaps, 30% full. There was some discussion between the hostess and the manager about whether or not they could accomodate us (what with all of the empty tables and such), but they finally agreed to let us in. I won't go into all of the details of the horrible service or mediocre food we encountered, but let it suffice to say that what should have been a 60-minute meal turned into one that lasted well over two hours.

The part that is relevant, however, occurred at the end of the meal when I asked to speak to the manager. After expressing my displeasure at the service we had receive, the manager proceeded to blame things on "those walk-in people who don't have reservations"!! She further said that they were competing with all "these other restaurants around here" and "how can we compete if people just keep showing up without reservations." How indeed! We wouldn't want more customers coming in! She had obviously forgotten that my friend and I were walk-ins. And blaming bad service on the **customers** was a tack that caught me off guard. Needless to say, we left with a vow never to return and to let everyone know about our experience.

IT exists to service customers. While the customer may not always be right, there are ways to listen to, and interact with, your customers that allow you to say "no" without ticking the customer off. The more you know about your customer, the better you can communicate with them. The manager at the restaurant obviously didn't pay any attention when we came in or she would have known we were a walk-in. The same applies to IT personnel--if they don't get out and talk to the customers, they will have no idea what really goes on in the organization.

If you want your IT group to really deliver top-notch service, make sure they are out talking to the customers, not simply sitting in cubicles writing code or setting up servers. Make it a job requirement to have face time with customers on a regular basis. And measure the impact of that face time--customer surveys are a great way to do this.

Don't let your IT group lose customers because they don't know them. Otherwise, "how are [you] going to compete?"

ps. I wrote an e-mail/letter to both Conde Nast and the restaurant immediately on my return. That was almost 10 days ago and I have not received a response from either one. How sad.


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3 comments

Comment from: ACR [Visitor] Email · http://www.ctgop16.com
*****
>>...those walk-in people who don't have reservations"!! She further said that they were competing with all "these other restaurants around here" and "how can we compete if people just keep showing up without reservations."

Gasp! She said what???

Incredible, while I haven't hoisted a tray since the late 1960's during high school and college; even as a 15 year old busboy I would have known better than to make such a remark.

It seems increasingly easy to stand apart from one's competitors via better-than-average service, which was clearly not present at Zinnia.

Considering restaurants have little that's truly unique to sell, splendid service is an area where they can acquire a loyal following and subsequent long term prosperity.

Some businesses, such as Verizon Wireless fully grasp the situation.
Their competitors largely offer the same phones and similar price plans; but Verizon's customer service is so over the top that their customer retention is substantially higher; and should be as they achieve customer loyalty the old fashioned way, earning it everyday one customer at a time.

Zinnia's needs to take a cue from them.

10/27/09 @ 09:32
Comment from: virk [Visitor] · http://virk.wordpress.com
*****
Good post and it reminded me of similar experience I had at another place in Canada. Every business owner knows that excellent customer service is the key to success and it baffles me how it can be pushed to the side - and some times customer service becomes only lip service.

On IT, I agree with you that IT exists to service business customer. Both sides need to interact more and understand their roles. We do not want Business to design IT solutions and neither IT to define business requirements. As you mentioned in the post about saying 'No' without ticking off customer is important in IT to serve. Win-Win strategy helps both sides, IT to deliver best customer service and Business to receive it. Thanks.
10/27/09 @ 12:02
Comment from: check99a [Member] Email
Thanks for the feedback, Virk. You are correct that both IT and business need to interact more and look for ways to assist each other. Win-Win is the best scenario, although I can think of a few times where the business winning was the "right" outcome even though IT ended up suffering a bit.
10/27/09 @ 22:56

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Don shares his experience and ideas about how to get the most value from your IT function. Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of Don and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of his clients or employers.

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