Lucky Skunk


lucky skunk

The Three F’s of Customer Service

A long time ago when I was working at a small restaurant in Vancouver called Las Tapas,  i would watch the owner, Mark Winrob, train the hostesses in the “Three F’s”.

It went something like this:

1.      Be Fast

2.      Be Friendly

3.      Be Firm

In other words, greet the customer in a timely fashion with a smile and seat them where it best works for the operation.  For instance, don’t sit a couple of a four top when you know that you are about to get hit by a dinner rush.

The same applies in day-to-day business and I use it all the time.

1.       Be Fast

With the advent of smart phones, BlackBerries and instant messaging, clients expect answers right away.  Gone is the day of letter mail, and replying to correspondence in days and weeks.  However, just because a client emails you with questions or concerns, it doesn’t mean that you must answer immediately.

I use the 4 – 24 rule

If you cannot provide a quick answer during regular business hours to a question, make sure that you notify your client within 4 hours that you have received their message and will reply with a complete answer within the next day.  Then, within 24 hours, you must endeavor to provide that answer.

Here is an example email:  “Hi Bob, thanks for your email.  We have your request and are now working on providing you with a full solution within the next day.”

2.       Be Friendly

It goes without saying that we all have competition, and now that most of us work in environments that dictate less face to face time, being friendly and making a effort to know your client is paramount.  Gone are the days of long client lunches, especially for those, who like me, work in the digital space.

Get to know your customer.  Find out where they live, what they do for fun, their children’s names and make notes in your contact database.  There is lots of time in business for these courtesies and they don’t detract from your professional relationship in anyway.

As an example, before making a call to a client who lives in another town, find out who won Sunday’s football game in that town, look up the weather, and get to learn more about your customer’s life.

Here is an example of a phone call: “Good morning Bob.  How about those Pats!  They did it again!…”  and then let you customer talk and share his life with you.

The better you know your customer, the longer he or she will be with you.  And if you have operational issues down the road, it makes it a lot easier when you break the ice knowing ‘Bob’.

3.       Be Firm

The customer is always right.  It’s a saying that I do not agree with.  The bottom line to your company and its shareholders is always right.

Sometimes you will have customers who will push you to provide more and more for less.  Heck, I try to get more from my suppliers all the time.  Just be prepared to say no when the bottom line is at hand.

Here is an example:

“Hi Bob.  Thank you for your request asking us to drop our price on widgets by 20%.  Tell you what, we can drop our price by 20% if you are willing to commit to buying 20% more widgets.”

And sometimes you will have customers that just are high maintenance and email you with every little question conceivably possible.  Let them know in a friendly manner that they should differ any questions to your corporate FAQ section before calling, or asking them in a friendly way, to summarize their questions into one email sent weekly.

Just remember.  Be Fast.  Be Friendly.  Be Firm

 Go Pats!