Effective Customer Service Program
How to Keep Your Customers For a Quarter of a Century

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A few days ago as I was reading an E-Book on effective Internet Marketing I remembered an incident that had a profound impact on my life. The incident took place shortly after I had completed my studies and left college.

One of my best friends and his wife came to visit my wife and me at our home. At the time we had a five year old son. After chatting for a while and playing our favorite card game, UNO, my friend asked, "Why don't we just go out for a meal?" As we all were vegetarians he suggested that we visited a South Indian Restaurant very near to the World famous Wembley Stadium in London, UK. What happened next overturned everything that I had come to believe about service organizations and Customer Service.

I telephoned the restaurant and tried to book a table. The manager told me that they were closed and would not be opening until 6:30pm. So far so good (or bad). That is where the conversation would have ended with most organizations but not this one. The manager asked me "How many are there in your party?" I replied, "Four adults and a five year old boy." His next statement blew me away. The manager asked "How soon can you get here?" And I replied, "I can be there by three." He then said "Come on down, we will open up for you."

That day we (my family) were introduced to the Royal Mysur Thali, to Mango Lassi and Culfi ice cream. It was a fabulous meal with huge portions. We had the restaurant all to our selves. We felt like royalty. My friend seemed to take the service and attention in his stride. Apparently he was accustomed to this level of service from his days growing up in his homeland, India.

Since then whenever I felt like having a meal out, my first choice is always Woodlands. I have taken business associates, friends and potential clients there. In fact perhaps eight out of ten of my visits to a restaurant have been to Woodlands.

That incident took place a few years ago now. As a matter of fact, the five year old boy will be twenty eight years old this year and my most recent visit to Woodlands was just before Christmas. I am amazed to think that twenty three years have passed since my first visit to that restaurant.

I guess this question is really a no-brainer but I will still ask it; was it worthwhile to the company that the Manager decided twenty three years ago to open the restaurant nearly four hours early for two families to come dine with them? You bet it was.

I could have waited and gone for my meal at a time when they were open and I would have been a 'satisfied customer' but that was not good enough for this Manager. He apparently decided that he did not want a 'satisfied customer.' What he wanted was a 'DELIGHTED CUSTOMER." Did he succeed? Well, what do you think? Eight out of ten visits over the past twenty three years certainly speak volumes for his customer service program.

How would you like to have your customers stay that loyal to you? You would? Ok, let's see what that manager did. The first thing he did was to recognize that I could easily go to another restaurant and might never call him again. Next, he decided to inconvenience himself so that I would feel special, in his effort to get me onto his premises. When I got to the premises the staff ensured that my party was comfortable and well looked after. They then provided some of the best food I have ever tasted. Truly a quality product and top class service. That warm towel after the meal is really something special.

The final touch, as we were leaving, was the manager walking us to the door, opening the door and saying to us, "thank you for coming, please come again." Would you have gone back to a restaurant after such treatment? I guess that Manager did a great 'sales job' on me, but I didn't mind one bit. That Manager knew all along, that I would most likely be asking myself "What's in this deal for me? Is he going to overcharge me for opening four hours early? Not only did he not over-charge, on the contrary he over-delivered and greatly surpassed my expectations.

You might not be selling South Indian food but the same principles apply. Now you know how to keep your customers for a quarter of a century.

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