What You Don't Want Me Thinking | Thumbs Down

What You Don’t Want Me Thinking When I Buy From You

The other evening my wife and I were discussing where to go to dinner when I said, “Let’s go to that place with the fancy nachos I like; you know, the one with the crappy service.”

Unfortunately, she knew exactly which place I meant.

Restaurants deliver a product and a service, and the best ones excel at both. This restaurant has a good product, but its service is almost uniformly poor.

What You Don't Want Me Thinking | Thumbs DownThe servers, while nice enough, tend to forget about you for long stretches. The kitchen almost always takes too long to get the food out. And good luck getting the check before the next ice age starts.

We now associate this restaurant with good food and bad service – and that is a terrible place for a business to be, particularly if we are not the only ones who feel that way.

But wait – aren’t you going back there? Aren’t you giving them your business regardless of the poor service? Obviously, the product is good enough that the service doesn’t really matter.

On the surface, this might seem true; however, it does not take into account the hidden costs of poor service.

Here are a few ways this restaurant’s bad service is costing it heavily.

  • We do not patronize the restaurant regularly. We generally only go if one of us has a strong craving, or we are just sick of everything else in the area.
  • We do not go there if we are under any kind of time constraint, which is most of the time.
  • We do not recommend the restaurant to others.

Finally, our patronage of the restaurant is fairly dependent on a lack of competition. We live in a moderately-populated suburb, and the food choices are limited. If there was a competitive food concept open, we would try it immediately, and if the food and distance were comparable, and the service better, it is doubtful we would go back to the existing restaurant.

It is easy to get lulled into complacency, easy to assume your customer service is good enough. But are your customers truly happy?

Why do they stay? If even one of your answers is a lack of options or high switching barriers, then it’s time to take a good look at your customer service.

Sooner or later, competition arrives and switching barriers decrease. If your customers are staying not because they want to but only because there is really nothing better available… well, you’re lucky. And luck only lasts so long.

If you focus on delivering Hero-ClassTM Customer Service, you will make your customers so happy that it won’t matter what the competition does – your customers won’t even consider leaving.

And that is what you want people thinking when they buy from you.


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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