Customer service training - Would it REALLY hurt?


Customer service sold the cake!
That chocolate cake looked yummy, so we bought some of that while we were in there too!

When giving training seminars, I love sharing stories, outlining positive and negative customer service experiences. The people I'm training get a lot more from it than just listening to theory — especially when we then brainstorm ideas on how the lesson can be applied to their own customer service and marketing strategy.

This comparison example is a zinger, as it shows the difference between two completely different attitudes.

Both of these businesses spend a fair bit on marketing and advertising. Both businesses have well known branding. One understands customer service and how to convert marketing into sales. The other? Well…. you read and decide.


Customer service example #1: The coffee shop that got our money.

I just saw a real eye-opener in a retail coffee shop.

Most food outlets get cross and cranky if you sit at their tables with food or drink you have bought elsewhere. Fair enough too. I can remember as a kid that my dad would take a pretty dim view if someone used our shop’s tables to eat food from a business down the road. But today, I was at Capalaba Park Shopping Centre. The Zarraffa’s coffee shop there has a sign that says “We don’t mind if you eat food from elsewhere, when you sit and enjoy our terrific coffee”.

This sign? In a coffee shop that sells it’s own range of food?

Wow! What a great idea!

It got us.

We had already purchased some sandwiches elsewhere, and were going to have lunch at home.


That invitation caught our eye, and so we decided to have a coffee and eat our sandwiches right there in at Zarraffas.

And, well….

Those chocolate brownies DID look appetising, so we bought some of those. And, with visitors coming tonight, there were a couple of nice cakes we needed for desert…

As we settled the bill for $36, I thought about how it was a pretty good example of a sale being made — through being generous and open.

Compare and contrast this with our experience at CellarOne at Woodford…


Customer service example #2: The bottle shop that chased us away.

When attending the folk festival, we went into Woodford to do some laundry and stock up on some necessary supplies — including beer, wine, and a bottle of rum. The laundry was right next to the bottle shop, so I went in to ask for laundry change and to buy the grog.

There was a sign on the counter that said “No Change Given For Laundry — So Do NOT Ask”.


I figured that I could make a deal, so I said to the guy, “I see you don’t give laundry change. But if I buy 2 cartons of beer, some wine and bottle of Bundy, will you help us out with some 20c coins?”

(Disclaimer: this was for THREE families, not just us!)

The guy just points to the sign, and says, “No change given, Mate.”

A little flummoxed, I tried again…

“Are you SURE you can’t help? I’m probably going to spend a fair bit... ”

Arms folded, and a shake of the head.

Sigh. Back in the car — up the road to the pub. Spent around $200. AND, we got our 20c coins for the laundry with a smile!

The lesson...

Seems to me that Zarraffa’s are pretty smart — turning what some people see as a nuisance into an opportunity. The bloke at CellarOne on the other hand just didn’t get it — ESPECIALLY as giving some change would have cost him absolutely nothing.

And let me tell you, the cost wasn’t only that $200 lost sale. Even though I only go to Woodford once a year, the value of that squandered opportunity will add up over time as I take my money (and that of the other families I know) to the smiling, welcoming people at the pub up the road.

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