Customer Server: 5 ways to be better

If you’re reading this, you’re interested in becoming a better server.

I have ten years of direct face to face customer service under my belt.

I’m going to share a few tips and tricks with you that will hopefully make life easier for you.

Please note that this post is for the benefit of my Odyssey Cinemas employees.

Hopefully, whoever you are you can get something out of it too. Some of these guidelines are applicable in the real world. I invite you to try it out for yourself.

If you feel like some of the bad examples are about you directly there’s an easy way to prevent that happening in future.

5: Only apologise if you massively messed up and it’s your fault.

You overhear the person serving beside you, “Sorry for the wait”. You start thinking to yourself, is my colleague deliberately serving slow? Why am I working at full speed if they are taking their sweet time? The customer begins thinking, why am I stuck with the slowpoke, let me go to someone else. Everyone is a bit more miserable because of this.

The above is of course nonsense. No thinks that the person apologising is being deliberately slow. Everyone is working as quickly as they can, but that raises the question. Why is the person apologising?

You aren’t personally holding the queue up, are you? People understand that they are going to have to wait. You and I can’t control when people show up at the cinema; you also can’t control the decisiveness of a customer.

What I’m trying to say is you’re apologising for aspects out of your control. So apologising is unnecessary.

Another aspect of apologising is that the more you do it, the more you devalue genuine apologies. I don’t apologise for all that much, so people know that when I do, it means more.

4: Talk the right amount

Talking the right amount is something that you will have to gauge for yourself over time. Some customers are terse and give grunts; others will tell you their entire life story.

Talk the right amount so that you aren’t coming across as rude or abrupt but make it clear that you have to work not chat. It’s not rude or “not nice” it’s business. You understand that as does the customer.

Building relationships with individual customers is something that you can do over time. You will notice regulars, and in that case, you can get into deep and meaningful if you want. Trying to force it on the first interaction is weird and creepy.

Notice also when a customer engages in conversation, it’s always after they have got what they want.

Customers don’t want their time wasted but don’t mind wasting yours. Be polite but make it clear that other customers now need you.

Customers will also talk for the sake of talking. “Is it any good” is a weird question. They don’t care about the answer they want to talk. “I’ve heard it’s good” is all you need to say.

3: Be repetitive, be repetitive, be repetitive

Customers in their head know what they want, they know it so well that they think that they don’t need to tell you. This is where the power of repetition comes in. Parrot back to the customer their order because it reduces the risk of error.

Customers will also leave gaps in information. You can be more efficient by attempting to fill these gaps.

“One ticket for Star Wars.”

“One (Adult) ticket for Star Wars (now at 6 pm)

“No, I want a student for Star Wars tomorrow at 10 am.”

Repetition may seem a bit clumsy and unnatural, but it keeps you right. If there is an issue, you can say that you checked with them before proceeding leaving the responsibility with the customer.

2: Tell, don’t ask

Customers want to give you their money. There’s an expression with car salesman “No one steps onto the lot unless they want to buy a car”. Our expression would be a little more clumsy. “No one walks around the foyer for 10 minutes before looking for times on the foxy Fridays leaflets unless they didn’t want to buy a ticket”.

Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Customers want to give you their money as quickly as possible before they talk themselves out of it.

Customers want to hand over the mullah minimum fuss.

How can you upset this, by giving them too many choices? The customer wants a cinema ticket a popcorn and a drink. They don’t care about how much they spend, make it easy.

How can you help the customer simplify the process?

By telling them and not asking.

Way off the mark

“Gimme a drink and nachos.”

“Absolutely, what drink would you like.”

“What do you have?

“We have coke, diet coke, coke zero, sprite, Fanta. Also how much ice would you like? Also, would you like the cheese on the side with the salsa over the top with a little fence of jalapenos or would you like me to spell out your name with the cheese while using the nachos and salsa to do a historical reenactment of the eruption at Pompeii with the crumbs representing the ash cloud? Or I could use the nachos to represent the ocean with the salsa the BP oil spill, and jalapenos represent seagulls and the cheese the shoreline”.

You probably thought what the point of that last paragraph was? Congratulations that’s what the customer feels when bombarded with choice.

Decision-making fatigue is a problem. The modern world bombards us with choice and the fear of missing out.

The cinema should not be that kind of experience. The best way to make it better is by removing the choice.

Better method

“Gimme a drink and nachos.”

“Medium coke, cheese, salsa and jalapenos on the nachos.”

“Sprite for the drink, no jalapenos.”

Tell the customer what you’re giving them. If they agree, happy days you’re one step closer to becoming a psychic. If they disagree, then it’s up to them to tell you what they want.

Here is the thing, the customer knows what they want, and there is an experiment that you can try out to prove it. Let’s say there is Deadpool 2, Star Wars and Avengers starting within half an hour. A customer comes up “What’s on?” The customer knows what they want to see; they’re too afraid to ask, I don’t understand why that is, you notice over the years.

Here is what you do, “Deadpool 2 and Star Wars are starting soon” I guarantee they will ask about Avengers. Removing the choice makes people more determined to have it. Try this out for yourself, and you will be surprised.

Tell the customer what you are going to do and let them correct you.

1: “Would you mind, because”

If you’re finding it hard to get members sign ups I’m about to introduce you to the most persuasive four words in the English language.

Would you mind because?

Insert these words into a sentence, and you just increased the likelihood of getting them to comply.

A customer approaches you “A ticket please.”

Say the following as it’s written below:

“Would you mind signing up to our members’ scheme because then I can give you discount on the tickets.”

You have now increased the odds of them signing up.

All that matters is that you tell them that they can get the tickets for less. I have heard some people overburdening customers with information, “You get money off at Eddie Irvine’s”,

Too much information can be as bad as too little.

I can’t prove to you about how effective “Would you mind, because” is but I ask you to try it out on people even when your not in work.

See how you get on.

I’ve told this method to a few co-workers, you can ask them how useful the phrase is.

Hope you found this helpful

Hope you found this helpful, I may write a more.

The easier we make it for ourselves, the easier it is for the customer, the easier for the customer, the easier it is for ourselves.

Life is hard; the cinema is an escape.

Let’s make life that much easier for everyone.

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