According to the Bain & Company Harvard Management update, 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. This statistic deserves much consideration from business owners when developing strategies in the customer service arena. Being easy to do business with could mean higher ticket sales and retaining regular customers.

The easiest way to know whether or not you’re providing at least satisfactory, and preferably really good customer service, is to ask. “Asking for that feedback is critical,” says Renee Rouwhorst of Ryke’s Bakery in Muskegon, MI, “and it doesn’t just happen. You have to go out and get it.” Once you have the feedback, it’s up to you to figure out how to improve it to make sure your customers keep coming back, and that they tell everyone they know about it.

The System, Not the People

Eighty-percent of customers’ problems are caused by bad systems, not bad people, says John Goodman, vice chairman of TARP, Inc. One of the culprits that have turned once good systems to bad is technology, specifically the adoption and use of it by shoppers. At one time, employees having cell phones on the sales floor or in the production area was seen as having the potential to cause problems, but that might need to be reconsidered.

With more and more people connected to the internet through their phones, an employee is better suited to send a picture of a product to a customer requesting one. “We need to adjust our policies so we can give our employees the tools to be successful,” Rouwhorst says. When dealing with issues of security, simply provide a company cell phone used for this purpose. “They use my cell phone,” Rouwhorst adds.

A Quick Test

At Ryke’s, Rouwhorst developed a test to assess the customer service. She got an outside party to call the bakery with a purposely difficult order and provided the following list to be used for recording the nature of the service received.
 • Number of times put on hold
 • Number of times transferred to someone else
 • Number of times told, “we can’t,” or “don’t do that,” in one form or another
 • Number of times told, “it’s not how we do business,” or “our policy is…” in one form or another
 • Number of times you have to repeat yourself

“I Can…”
The most important thing you can do to provide your customers with a positive experience is to train your staff to always use “I can” statements. They need to always provide customers with alternatives that can be done rather than telling someone what the bakery can’t or doesn’t do.