Turning Customer Experience Problems Into Opportunities


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I have two daughters working their way through college at the same mid-range family steak house. One is old enough to be a server, the other is a host. In their work environment there are never any problems. As in, “we have a problem at table 4…” and you can use your imagination at this point. The soup might be cold or the beer warm, but it’s not a problem. Their training manual clearly states that it’s an opportunity. The situation transforms into; “we have an opportunity at table 4…” to alter the current customer experience.

When they are home they sometimes tell me about a few of those so called opportunities. I’ll have to admit that as I listen to some of the situations – as their father (not as the customer or as a marketing consultant) – I’ve been tempted to ask them if they told table 4 to stick that “opportunity” where the sun doesn’t shine. After all, those are my daughters, and once in a while every business has a table 4 so to speak, whose behavior crosses the line. However; I know that working in that environment can be instrumental in their personal development. They will experience situations firsthand that would be difficult for me to bring to life at home, or in a classroom. They are learning time management, interpersonal communication skills, stress and anger management, salesmanship, tolerance, patience, cooperation, critical thinking skills, crisis management, cross-cultural understanding, and the power of a simple smile. Yes, the presence or absence of that expression on their face can significantly change the customer experience. I know that when I see them smile my heart melts, but then again, I’m their father.

The economy is in deep trouble and every dining customer wants their limited entertainment dollars to result in a great experience. Chances are the person waiting on table 4 is fully aware of that desire and they know what is at stake. After all, their main income depends on tips – and if you don’t come back their jobs may be gone. Just ask the folks at Bennigan’s.

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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