In The Spotlight

At Messages On Hold, each department has its specialty, whether that be writing, sales, voicing productions or keeping the finances in check. But when it comes to customer interaction, everyone is responsible for controlling the variables that make the difference between a positive experience and a negative one. The same principle applies at restaurants.

I love pizza, and I was understandably excited when I got the chance to eat at one of Perth’s most exciting and hyped new eateries, which happens to specialise in this particularly delicious genre of comfort food.

Probably a little too bright for a restaurant interior...

Probably a little too bright for a restaurant interior…

It exceeded my expectations. The pizza was beautiful – wood-fired and topped with fresh ingredients, along with a herby sauce that provided a welcome twist in what is traditionally a by-the-book dish. Even the non-pizza items and desserts were impressive.  What’s more, service was friendly, knowledgeable and casual. In a nutshell, it was all perfect… except for one thing: the lighting.

A single light illuminated our table – and I’m talking a football stadium-esque spotlight, not the ambient mood lighting you might expect from most restaurants.  Bizarrely, the spotlight was angled in such a way that it shone both directly into my eyes and onto my cutlery before reflecting back up into my face.

The restaurant is a casual place, so perhaps high-end ambient lighting would be inappropriate. However, while it might be unreasonable to expect the team in charge of a casual restaurant to be experts in interior design, all eateries should be aiming to deliver excellent food with top service in an environment that’s comfortable to eat in, and it should be easy to do!

If I was in charge, I’d simply think about how I’d want to be treated. I can safely say that “having a bright light shone in my eyes for the duration of a meal” would not be on the list.

I’m a copywriter – I primarily write scripts. But I’m also well aware of the fact that I’m responsible for creating a superb overall customer experience on behalf of my company, which involves far more than writing a quality script… kind of like running a successful restaurant is about more than quality food.

Have you ever thought about the accidental spotlights you might be shining in your clients’ eyes that are dimming an otherwise bright customer experience? What can you do to ensure your customers see your company in the best possible light?

– Magnus

Customer Service Hangover

I just returned from a long weekend in Bali, Indonesia. The place is a tropical paradise – it’s devastatingly beautiful there, and the people, equally so. I spent just four days and three nights there and during my brief sojourn I was blown away by the level of customer service I experienced.

From the moment I stepped foot off the plane and into Ngurah Rai airport I was greeted by smiling friendly faces directing me where to go. Upon leaving the airport, I was met by my hotel driver, Jumbo. He welcomed me to his beautiful country, put a lei around my neck and cracked a few jokes. He showed genuine interest in where I was from, what I wanted to do while in Bali and offered a myriad of suggestions of things to do during my stay.hotel-staff

He noted that my hotel room would not be ready until 2pm – two hours from when I arrived. Rather than leaving me to languish in the lobby, he offered to drive me around Bali and show me some of the sights. The most notable venue was the home of Luwak Coffee – a coffee that has been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet. For the record, it’s very smooth and delicious. Take a moment to pause and think: when was the last time you received this level of service in Australia?

Another customer service triumph was in a local restaurant. The waitress had just finished serving another patron when I caught her attention. She walked over and I asked her if I could place an order. She said “Certainly, just let me grab my order pad”. Now in Australia, I probably wouldn’t see the waitress for another 10-15 minutes. Before I could roll my eyes, she had returned ready to take my order. It sounds small, but this kind of on-the-ball service is a rarity.

Finally, the pièce de résistance: my hotel’s ‘breakfast box’. Staying in Santi Mandala in Ubud, I was a good hour away from the airport. My departing flight to Perth was due to leave at 7am, so I had to be up and out the door at 5am. One of the reception staff noticed this when I checked in and arranged a small box filled with breakfast goods for me to eat on my way to the airport as the restaurant would not be open this early. I was blown away. I didn’t have to ask for it or even hint at it. It was simply provided. Needless to say, it left a lasting impression and here I am telling you about it.

Bali is a beautiful place and it’s made more beautiful by its kind, giving people. They’re always smiling and always so happy to have you in their country. The pride they have in their country, their work and their culture is what lifts the experience into the upper echelons of customer service mastery. They give more but with so much less, which begs the question: what can you do to bring this sort of attentive service into your business?

– Lachy