Has the Focus on the Customer Left the Service Industry?

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A couple of weeks ago I went into two different coffee shops – one an independent and one a chain. As I was waiting for my coffee I observed two interactions that left me scratching my head.

The first was with a man who ordered a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. When his order came up he received only half of what he’d asked for and when he stated this wasn’t his correct order, the woman looked at him and said "oops". Then silence. No apology. No "Let me make you another one.", no "The next one is on us." The guy looked bewildered and left the coffee shop with his incomplete order in hand.

That same week another gentleman ordered his coffee, admittedly with several ingredients and twists, and when his order came up the server had put in the wrong key flavor although the cup was clearly marked with what he had requested. The server looked at the customer and said, "Oh I missed that, do you want to try it anyway?" Again, no apology, no "Let me get you what you really ordered this morning."

This got me thinking: Has the focus on the customer left the service industry? Do these owners/leaders realize the impact these experiences are having on their businesses? Do they care?

When the livelihood of your company depends on the environment your employees are creating for your customers, shouldn't having effective and engaged conversations be a top priority?

Each employee is a hologram image of the culture regardless if anyone is looking over their shoulder. Personally, I have not frequented either of these places regularly since I witnessed these interactions. Instead, I have taken my purchase elsewhere.

As a leader, I am responsible for setting expectations and then holding myself accountable to live up to those expectations for my employees. If I’ve done my job well this should have a domino effect on others so they can hold themselves "able" and sustain a culture that keeps customers coming back.

All parties had their DNA on these situations. First the employee for not putting the customer first, and then the customer for allowing lower standards to become the acceptable norm.

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