Customer Experience vs. Compensation: a Customer Service Showdown


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The other night, I went to din­ner at one of my new favorite restau­rants. When I sat down, I couldn’t help but notice the table next to me was not hav­ing a pleas­ant din­ing expe­ri­ence. The two din­ers’ body lan­guage said it all. They both had their arms folded and were clearly try­ing to get the waiter’s atten­tion by star­ing and ges­tur­ing for him to come over to the table. He apol­o­gized sev­eral times for some­thing I could not deci­pher. A few min­utes later, what seemed to be a com­pli­men­tary dessert arrived.

This expe­ri­ence got me think­ing: was the dessert enough to turn the unhappy din­ers into repeat and loyal cus­tomers? Ask your­self this ques­tion: would you rather pay full price for a meal and receive good ser­vice or get a com­pli­men­tary dessert for bad service?

Although I appre­ci­ate, and some­times expect, some kind of com­pen­sa­tion for bad ser­vice, I would much rather pay for a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence. Peo­ple don’t go to restau­rants hop­ing to get bad ser­vice so they won’t have to pay. Or at least I don’t think so.

An arti­cle from stated, “What makes a restau­rant expe­ri­ence mem­o­rable for a cus­tomer, nine times out of 10, is how they’re made to feel rather than what they eat.”

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So why are com­pa­nies invest­ing money in reim­burs­ing upset cus­tomers when they should be train­ing their employ­ees to pro­vide the best cus­tomer expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble? If gain­ing loyal, repeat cus­tomers is the goal, train­ing is the answer.

Cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing teaches employ­ees first and fore­most how to com­mu­ni­cate pos­i­tively and pro­fes­sion­ally with cus­tomers. Train­ing also helps employ­ees with:

  • Devel­op­ing skills to help build rap­port with customers
  • Learn­ing how to respond to cus­tomer requests
  • Ques­tion­ing and con­firm­ing cus­tomer needs
  • Han­dling angry and upset customers

Some say cus­tomer ser­vice is a dying art. John Sul­li­van, a restau­rant indus­try ana­lyst and con­sul­tant, dis­agrees. He says, “All restau­rants bet­ter pay atten­tion to ser­vice or they will lose cus­tomers almost instantly.”


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