#TipsforTips: Providing Great Customer Service

See also: Customer Service Skills


Gathering expert advice and opinions, we took a look at what the hospitality sector can teach businesses about customer service.

Why is “Great Customer Service” So Important?

In an increasingly competitive world, attracting and retaining loyal customers is becoming more and more difficult.

The hospitality industry uses various techniques to ensure that great customer service is consistently offered to their customers.

We asked brand representatives, business experts and people with practical experience in the hospitality sector for any advice they could offer on what and how businesses can learn from the hospitality industry about customer service.

When we asked for advice, or their top “tips for tips”, the responses included:

  • Following the mantra that “the customer is always right”;
  • Handling issues or complaints quickly and appropriately
  • Simply building relationship with your customers

and many more...

The contributions below were provided by:

  • Dale Crawford, an independent consultant specializing in hospitality management and a 15-year veteran in the industry,
  • Nicole Fallon, Assistant Editor at BusinessNewsDaily.com,
  • Selina Hanley, a waitress who has worked in the hospitality industry for three years, both in the United States and Germany,
  • Sian, a Brand Activation Manager for a well-known liqueur brand.

Tips for Tips. How to provide great customer service.

Put the Customer First

The best strategy to ensure customer satisfaction is putting the customer at the forefront of everything you do. Treat each customer with respect.
– Nicole Fallon

I think the major and most obvious rules are to be approachable and to remember that the customer is always king.
– Selina Hanley

The customer might not always be ‘right’, as the saying suggests, but they should be at the forefront of any business model.

Customers ultimately pay the wages – without their custom, businesses would not be able to operate. Developing a more genuine relationship with customers and being attuned to their needs will maximize engagement throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Loyalty ultimately depends on a positive experience, and according to McKinsey, 70% of the buying experience is influenced by how the customer feels they are being treated. Treating each and every customer as though they are the most important person to the business will increase satisfaction, and can lead to long-term loyal customers.

Be Friendly and Personable

Don't be scared to interact with your customers - the more you do, the better of a connection you will make, and the bigger the tip you will receive.
– Selina Hanley

A great first impression is key to starting the customer-business relationship off on the right foot. Just like restaurants need a friendly, accommodating hostess and pleasant atmosphere in the front of the house, a business should provide a welcoming environment for new customers, whether it's through a clean, easy-to-navigate website or a smiling greeter stationed near the front of the store.
– Nicole Fallon

If you make a bad first impression, customers may create a pre-conceived idea of negativity about the business.

This can cloud their overall judgement of your company from the offset, and make it more difficult to create a positive experience going forward.

By being friendly and personable, interacting with customers and creating a welcoming atmosphere, you can help start the customer experience off on the right foot.

Address Issues Quickly and Appropriately

“Solving a problem is always cheaper than losing a customer. If a customer feels strongly enough to voice their concerns, it is imperative that you rectify the problem. If you express indifference, or worse argue with them about their experience, you have most likely served them for the last time. When addressing an issue, B.L.A.S.T –
– Dale Crawford

The best hospitality staff are excellent observers, and check in with customers as soon as they notice a potential problem. Businesses can do the same if they see that a customer needs help with a product - for example, if someone shares a question or complaint on social media.
– Nicole Fallon

Business should not let procedure stand in the way of providing a positive customer experience.

Focusing on the end result will ensure that your customers stay loyal, and handling and looking to resolve any issues quickly will aid turning a negative experience into a positive one. By acting in a prompt and professional manner to resolve the issue, trust will be instilled. Regardless of the previously bad experience, by focussing on the end result to make your customers happy, the next time that they need something that you sell, they will come back to you.

Incentivize to Increase Employee Performance

Obviously, the potential for tips can incentivize wait staff to work harder, to go the extra mile and to provide really great service
– Selina Hanley

If an employee is getting paid the same rate, no matter what their progress or performance, the overall output is going to suffer.

In the hospitality sector, if an establishment has a flat service charge, it can remove the incentive for employees to perform and provide great customer service to all customers. Incentives have been proven to increase employee performance, and can be a tool used by businesses to motivate staff to excel and to work to their highest level.

Be Helpful, Honest and Attentive

In general, great service is about two complimentary concepts: empathy and anticipation. Anticipating a customer's needs keeps you and your firm agile when unforeseeable circumstances require you to divert resources to address them.
– Dale Crawford

Giving individualized attention to every table and making each one feel important is what separates an excellent waiter/waitress from a decent one. Customizing a patron's experience by taking the time to ask about their needs and catering to them on a personal level will make customers feel special and encourage them to come back, no matter what type of business you run.
– Nicole Fallon

“Great service practice would mainly be helping customers as much as you can and maintaining a friendly manner. Focusing solely on the person you are serving makes a huge difference.
– Sian, Brand Activation Manager

Using positive language creates happy customers – don’t focus on what you can’t do, instead focus on what you can do.

Being attentive, available, prompt and proactive make customers feel valued and important. In hospitality, anticipating customers’ needs and customizing each experience to individual circumstances will make customers feel special, encouraging them to return and repeat business with you.

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About the Author

Natalie Richardson is a content writer for TollFreeForwarding.com