It’s no secret that Will Manzanares is a great admirer of Lee Cockerell, and if you haven’t read any of Cockerell’s books yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
As a best-selling author and a former executive of Disney, Cockerell has literally written several books that deal with customer service and how it can make or break a business. In fact, he’s one of the most approachable, accessible authors and businesspeople someone could ever meet, and Manzanares got his chance to do just that!
Will Manzanares has his own personal superhero working for him—his assistant, Grace, who managed to set up the meeting and schedule the breakfast with Cockerel. This is surprisingly easy, and anyone who has read Cockerell’s The Customer Rules probably already knows how to do this.
In fact, more people need to read Cockerell’s books—especially if they work in customer service or have to deal with helping people in general. One gaffe that Manzanares and Cockerell experienced during their breakfast was an unusual wait time. Part of why Manzanares chose the restaurant—it was reputed for its excellent service, great food, and warm, friendly atmosphere. The restaurant was open (or, rather, the doors were unlocked and Manzanares and Cockerell were welcomed inside), but the manager mentioned that even though they were open (as in, should have been serving and seating and being a restaurant), the servers weren’t scheduled to be in for another hour.
Cockerell seized this opportunity to influence the manager that perhaps they needed to re-examine their schedule, and make sure that the employees were aware that there were customers there, waiting to be served, with no servers on site. Just as it is reflected in his writing, Cockerell chose to roll with the situation, kept a positive attitude, and handled the wait with humor and grace, as did Manzanares. I’m betting, though, that manager was sweating bullets for a wee bit and hopefully won’t make that same mistake again.
Part of why Cockerell and Manzanares have gotten to know each other, and part of why more people need to read Cockerell’s books—customer service is everything. Without customers, you don’t have a business. If you’re in the restaurant business, lousy service will sink you faster than any horrible meal or bad coffee ever could—though those are definitely contributing factors. Lousy customer service means the customer won’t be back, and they don’t even have to say anything. You’ll see it in your bottom line. Piss off enough customers, and any potential customers won’t darken the door of your business. They might help bury it, though.
In this age of social media, Facebook, and Wal-Mart and Amazon taking over more and more mom-and-pop shops all over the country, you’d have to be a very special brand of stupid to ignore your customers. Though you may not always agree that the customer is always right, in the mind of the customer, he is. Don’t treat your customers badly. Your business depends on them.