Thursday 8 December 2016

How can I get my staff to start name-calling customers?

Published 14/05/2015 | 02:30

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Q: I struggle to get my staff to call customers by name when the customer is paying by debit or credit cards. Can you give me any advice?

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While attending a business conference in America, I recall ringing room service and the phone being answered by a pleasant young girl saying "hello Mr Quinn, how can I help you".

Thinking I recognised the accent, I enquired as to where she was from. "Ireland" was the response and then Ratoath. It turned out to be a girl called Elaine from Ratoath and as we talked about the high level of service and calling customers by name, I enquired as to how much training she had achieved. Only 45 minutes of training, but Elaine clearly understood that calling customers by name was a critical part of the businesses success and had embraced it wholeheartedly.

Clearly, the correct training had been provided and the staff were motivated enough to use customers names on a consistent basis. If staff understand the rationale of what they are doing they will embrace the tasks more readily.

Q: I run a café in Galway and am looking for any advice you can give on customer service?

The broad answer is to keep the customer central to your business and ensure that your staff maintain this ethos. You will need to set the tone and you will find that very quickly your staff will follow your lead.

I recall being in Galway with my wife Denise. As we entered a shop, I couldn't help but notice that neither the staff nor the owner, who was near the front door, were greeting any of the customers as they came in.

We were in the shop a good 10 minutes and not one customer was greeted by any of the team.

Clearly this was not a priority for the owner and definitely was not a priority for the staff. They were all too busy doing other things.

For any business to excel at service, it must be central to the fabric of what the business stands for.

It is easy to lose focus on the things that are most important to the business and in my opinion service is the most important of all of these!

Send your small business questions to himself@feargalquinn.ie

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