Monthly Archives: March 2011

Office Talk – Expressions

“The Office” can be used to mean any job or typical day.  You do not actually have to work in an office.
John comes home tired, looking stressed and burned out.  His wife asks:  “Hard day at the office?”
He replies:  “Oh yeah.  We’ve got a new manager/supervisor/accountant/secretary/etc. causing me grief because…”
Once again, John doesn’t necessarily have to work at an office.  It can be any job, white collar or blue collar, volunteer, etc. that he is coming home from.

I have also heard that there is a bar/pub called “The Office” so that when your wife or husband asks “where are you now?” you can honestly say “I’m (still) at the office!”

“Office Politics” refers to power positioning at your place of employment and the perceived route to career success and promotion.  You have to have a good relationship with those in a position over your career.  It also refers to the idea that you should get along with others at work, and not burn any bridges’ (damage any personal or professional relationships).  

Introducing the Customer Service Category

Hello Readers,

For a number of years now I have enjoyed conversations with friends about terrible customer service or great customer service, and it seems there is an endless supply of stories, especially here in the big city of Toronto.  We Canadians pride ourselves on our stereotypical politeness and our overuse of “please” and “thank you” but the sad fact is that the average customer service experience here in Toronto is mediocre or “good-enough” at best.  Here is the problem:  when we get great service, whether it is at a restaurant or while dealing with a utility company or any other service industry, we are genuinely shocked and almost overwhelmed.  We RAVE about the wonderful service.  Why?  Because it isn’t normal here!  Isn’t that wrong?  So I have created this category in this blog.

As a professional Communication Coach I train people in advanced communication skills which, as you can imagine, includes customer service, building rapport, conflict management etc.  Considering my job, I guess it’s fair to say that I’m a harsh judge of excellent service, but the other reality is that I am a very happy, positive person 99% of the time, and I go in to any interaction with a smile and positive attitude, and the hope that it will be a good experience for both/all of us.   I definitely do not try to be a jerk to anyone!  I used to work customer service myself (most people have at some point).

So I thought I would create a blog category where I can RANT and RAVE about the good, the bad and the ugly customer service here in Toronto.  Heck, there may even be stories in there from outside of this city.  It could be on the topic of public transit, restaurants, utilities, camera shops etc.  No topic is off-limits or too personal.

I can promise you that even though I will use this blog to vent a bit and let people/companies know when they have acted poorly, I will also praise the hard work of others, to make things balanced and fair.  My goal is to be entertaining as well as informative.   I think you will agree that my posts are quite down-to-earth, personable and I hope insightful.

I welcome your comments and stories, but please keep them polite and professional, so I can allow them to be posted.

Thank you!

Yours in pursuit of customer satisfaction,

Coach Ric

When a Customer Asks for Extras – What Would You Do?

We’ve all asked for some extras at the restaurants, right?  We want malt vinegar instead of white for our fries/chips, we want extra ketchup packets from the fast-food place so we can put them in our fridge, we want 2 helpings of the special dipping sauce at Swiss Chalet.  The question the wait staff, managers and owners of restaurants need to ask themselves is – how much is too much?  That’s tricky when you live in a culture of “the customer is always right”.

I remember I used to visit a Red Lobster in St. Catharines (this is going back a long time ago…mid-nineties!) and they were always giving away free appetizers or discounts off the bill if anything was a few minutes late or if the customer ever said “boo”.  I remember thinking at the time, as I ate my comp shrimp cocktail, that the place must be losing a ton of money.

Anyway back to more recent times, a couple of years ago I took my girlfriend (now my wife) to a new restaurant for Valentine’s Day.  We went to Mambo’s on the Danforth.  Let me tell you – it was awesome!  Great service, great tapas, great mojitos…couldn’t ask for anything more.  I immediately signed up for their newsletter to get coupons emailed to me regularly.  We went a couple more times and even when they changed some items on the menu and did some reno (I can’t remember if they changed management hands or not) we still came back for special occasions, or when we were feeling like we needed to be spoiled.

Anywho, here is my story that relates to the title:  I got an email offer that said if it was your birthday you could come in and get a free main/dinner.  I thought that was good, but who eats by themselves on their birthday at a restaurant like that, right?  So I emailed back to the owner asking, since my girlfriend and I had birthdays within 8 days of each other, could we come in and both get a free main in one night?

I know, I know – I was being a bit pushy right?  But you know what they say – you never know until you ask.  I thought I wasn’t asking for that much, since we were returning customers and he would know that from our names since we had signed up for special nights before via internet.

What happened?  He never emailed me back.  Ever!  I guess he felt it was too much to ask, and instead of responding or negotiating with me, he wrote nothing.  I felt a bit embarrassed and so we never returned to the restaurant again.  Ever.

So the question is now upon you; if you were the customer,  waitstaff,  manager or the restaurant owner, what would you do?   How would you respond to my email/request?  All straight-forward and also creative answers welcome!