Monday, April 9, 2007

Communiqué #8: Exceptional Customer Service

Operating a sucessful business is a challenge on so many levels. There is the creation of the business itself; getting up the courage, securing the financing, developing a unique proposition and the heavy lifting of building systems to bring the business to market. So that it gets to a point that the business owner(s) cannot see the forest for the trees. Typically it is more about not seeing the customer for the day to day operations. Regardless of what business you are in, the customer is not only king he or she is more like a god. Without the customer your business is nothing. A lesson that every business owner should always keep top of mind.

Running our little business ( Miami is a blessing because Miami is so cursed with bad service that it is a constant reminder to us of what not to do. Case in point, this evening I was entertaining my parents who are in from overseas and my girlfriend at a well known South Beach restaurant. Dear reader, let me let you in on a secret. My parents are from a very structured country where there is a rigid class system. My girlfriend is from Japan, a country noted for exceptional customer service. To say that they are a tough crowd to please is an understatement.

So then this evening’s first restaurant was a fiasco! The waiter was atrocious, no need to get into detail but suffice to say we left before ordering. The lesson tonight was that regardless of your reputation as a business you are only as good as your last customer experience. This is a restaurant that I have frequented for at least five years. I know the owner, the manager and executive chef routinely make their way to the table to greet my guests but tonight I left without so much as sipping the complimentary water. Now, I will make it a point to speak with the manager via telephone tomorrow afternoon and let him know how disastrous last night was. Then I’ll wait and hear what actions will be taken. Then I’ll decide whether or not to eat there again.

The years of great service are to me “good will equity” which I will deplete to zero with my telephone call. After that all bets are off with regards to my continued patronage.

I am a tough a customer but my clients are even tougher and are being asked to trust my company to deliver non-spurious 100% Pure Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee on demand. Add to that the fact that they routinely pay $30 plus per pound and you can imagine that expectations run high. Everyday we strive to achieve a five star rating (literally) from each and every customer. The partners and I routinely send email, make telephone calls in order to simply ask, “how was the service and is there anything we can do to improve it”

As time moves on and we grow as a business we are able to reach more and more customers through this regiment and this week we’ve added two new tools to quantify those contacts. Jamaica Blue Mountain Traders has launched both a customer testimonial system and a product review system at in order to give clients a way to talk back easily. I refer back to the statement that “the customer is a god or goddess and without them we wouldn’t have a business.” Understanding the client’s likes and dislikes should be the key metric informing us how to allocate resources. Our personal likes are dislikes are of little importance if they do not resound with the clients in general. Consider too that despite all of our best efforts, the client has a bad experience with the service, it is our obligation to correct that issue and make the customer happy regardless of cost. Ultimately, giving the customer something positive to talk about is the very best marketing anyone could hope have. As we grow the business, it is something we will not soon forget. Living in a place with such horrific service standards is a constant reminder.

Warm Regards,
Jerry Delince
Managing partner

Jamaica Blue Mountain Traders, LLC.
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