If you don’t like customers…

[Cache – #101]

…get out of the customer service business.  

Have a look at these photos, all taken at a Toronto cafe called Broadview Espresso:

RUDE RHYME

CASH ONLY

DO NOT UNSCREW

These signs were written by people who don’t like people.  So why the hell did they open a business in which they have to interact with humans?

The answer could be vanity:  some people consider it cool to own a cafe, so this could just be a business designed to stroke its owners’ egos at the expense of bashing its customers.  Broadview Espresso’s bad attitude is not unique, unfortunately, as anyone who’s been to a Dark Horse well knows – from the vacant stares and sullen silence one is “greeted” with by the too-hip hipster at the counter.  You know, the one doing you the ridiculous favour of taking your money.

I’ve done my time in the front-line customer service industry.  From checking thousands of people in and out at the Royal York for three years, I know that customers can be difficult to deal with, and sometimes almost impossible.  But you deal with it.  You either pretend you are enjoying yourself, like 99% of people in the customer service industry, or you are among the rare people who have what beerbistro (Toronto’s paragon of awesome service) calls “the hospitality gene.”  These are the individuals who deep down, in their heart of hearts, actually like serving people.  They smile every day and answer every “stupid” question as if it was the first time they heard it, not the hundredth. These are the people who regard customer service not as a job, but as a calling.

If you hope to have a brand that delivers great experiences, you’d better have some of these rare animals.  I suspect they have at least a few at GCI, a PR firm I visited yesterday.  Or more to the point, a PR firm that welcomed me yesterday, first with this sign:

GCI welcome sign

The welcoming experience continued with a lovely spread of food and drink in the boardroom – in which was sitting, composed and ready to go, all three of the people I was meeting with.  The closed french doors to the boardroom had been dramatically opened for me, revealing my three contacts waiting inside, adding a unique experiential touch I will never forget.

Just as I will never forget the experience had at the cafe.

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