STORES - October 2010 - (Page 18)

EXECUTIVE SUITE / CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Serving Up Satisfaction Food service experts show businesses how customer service is done BY SANDY SMITH he aim at Pal’s Sudden Service is orders so accurate customers don’t feel the need to check the bag. At Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, every employee is empowered to do whatever it takes to satisfy a customer without asking for approval. T “We challenge our company, ‘Is there These aren’t just ideals dreamed up something that we can do above and beyond by top executives that aren’t practical to wow this customer? Can we be a little more — or practiced — on the frontlines. perceptive about what they really want?’” For Pal’s, a 22-unit burger chain in – Thom Crosby, Pal’s Sudden Service Tennessee and Virginia, and Zingerman’s, which operates a collection of restaurants and food venues in Ann Arbor, Mich., the objectives may be lofty, but so are the success rates. In fact, both organizations have perfected their overall systems so well that they have spun off businesses to train others. “Most people don’t feel they get great service most of the time,” says Maggie Bayless, managing partner of ZingTrain, which trains Zingerman’s employees and other companies through courses, books, DVDs and custom seminars. “As we work with a lot of organizations, we find that the ones that have a strong customer service culture, employees like working there. “It’s a chicken/egg thing,” she says. “You have a strong service culture, you attract strong service providers. Once you get a strong culture of service going, it has some momentum.” Wowing customers At Pal’s, which opened its first restaurant in 1956, the key to “customer delight” begins with a deeper understanding of the terminology. “Customer service sounds very basic,” says Thom Crosby, president and CEO of Pal’s and CEO of Pal’s Business Excellence Institute (BEI), both based in Kingsport, Tenn. “Every job has a noble description that links you to the mission. Even customer satisfaction isn’t right. If you think about satisfaction, it means, ‘I was expecting X and I got X. I’m not wowed, but I’m satisfied.’ “We challenge our company, ‘Is there something that we can do above and beyond to wow this customer? Can we be a little more perceptive about what they really want?’” Something is clearly working: The average Pal’s customer returns 3.3 times each week, drawn by the iced tea, which is the 18 STORES / OCTOBER 2010 top seller, and a relatively limited menu of burgers, grilled chicken, deli sliced sandwiches, hot dogs, fries and drinks. The training, says David McLaskey, an independent contractor who joined Pal’s to launch BEI, is “extremely effective and efficient. If we stop anything short of fully training the person to do the job 100 percent correct, 100 percent of the time, our customers will notice.” Much of it starts at the top. “My role as CEO is not Lord Emperor, but servant to all 900 employees,” Crosby says. “Any employee who has an obstacle in their way, my job is to WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES - October 2010

STORES - October 2010
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail People
Customer Experience
Game Changer
Power Players
NRFtech Recap
Concept 2 Watch
Customized Shopping
Consumer Behavior
Software & Analytics
Crowd Control
Payment Fraud
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES - October 2010