Tag Archives: customer satisfaction

Writing great last chapters

Danny Meyer really gets it.  This is the last chapter in this week-long series on my new favorite business text, Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table.  See my July 28 post for details on the book.

Do you ever let “perfect” get in the way of very good?  Have you ever had a client or customer walk away from an experience with a bad taste in his or her mouth?  Or more likely, have you ever been on the short end of a customer transaction in which you were slighted?

Meyer and his teams practice what he brilliantly calls “writing great last chapters.”  The beauty of this idea is that it does not avoid, but embraces mistakes.  It is not foolishly naive.  It does not promote committing mistakes so you can look like a hero when you clean them up.

Instead, Meyer masterfully uses mistakes as opportunities to leave customers with a lasting last impression that is most likely to bring them back and make them loyal customers.

“Are you in it for keeps?  It’s almost always worth bearing a higher short-term cost if you want to win in the long run. . .  Generosity of spirit and a gracious approach to problem-solving are, with few exceptions, the most effective way I know to earn lasting goodwill for your business.”

So sayeth Danny Meyer, so sayeth the flock.

When you or your business comes up short — and you have to become much more critical of your performance to be sensitized to customer’s subtle body language or to be able to handle their outright criticism — use it as an opportunity to go to great lengths to let your true spirit shine through.

Meyer says to train your staff to be agents of your client, rather than gatekeepers for your business.  Look for solutions, not excuses.   Find ways to say yes, instead of apologetically saying no.

If you’ve already reached that point I wrote about last time out, where you decide to commit to your business, this should be straightforward.  In fact, it’s something of a gut check.

I don’t agree with, or fully get all of Meyer’s points.  For instance, it seems parsing your desired employee profile along a 51/49 fissure, skewed two percent toward empathy and emotional intelligence over skills, is difficult to quantify.  It almost seems gimmicky.  I agree that more empathy is important and that skills are easier to teach than interpersonal skills, but his ideas like trailing as part of his hiring process, is probably more effective than seeking 51 percent empathy scores.

However, for all the business books I have read, and all the service seminars I have attended, his philosophy perfectly suits my sensibilities and those needed for my work.

I appreciate that his ideals are steeped in good old-fashioned intuition and honed to a fine point by real-world experience and just-right mentoring along the way.

At the end of the day, you need to read the book for yourself and draw your own conclusions.  I hope this has been a worthy last chapter, even though its not borne of a mistake or customer service guffaw, but as I prepare to train a new employee in the coming months, you better believe I am going to teach them the importance of writing great last chapters.

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