What Is The Cost On Your Customer Service Reputation With A Quick Fix Or Bad Habits?

Since the easing of lockdown has allowed us to open up our lives more and more, people are venturing out to eat in restaurants, buy stuff in shops, get their cars repaired and go about life interacting with companies and venders with a certain expectation that they will get what they want when they need it.

This includes me of course! To be frank, I am surprised with the lacklustre levels of service, I’m currently getting by many businesses.

Now, before you shout at me about not being compassionate about the current situation, I am. What we have all been through has been unprecedented.

However, I see in my own recent experiences of poor customer service, a certain lack of thinking, planning, and general management ability to get the basics in place. It seems we are all in a new social experiment called…

“Give us your money and we will see what we can do”

Take a pause and go back to basics…

I have used small businesses like restaurants and shops to illustrate my observations, but the principles are the same for all of us working in large corporate organisations too.

Businesses rely on high levels of customer service, whether directly involved with consumers or treating our work colleagues as internal customers. We must go back to the basics and remember why we are in business and why we are a manager within that business and why we should respect our customers. 

Bad habits?

In many cases we seem to have got into habits and forgotten the importance of getting things right first time and the importance of excellent customer service. There are genuine reasons why things have been difficult over the recent months and will continue to be difficult for some considerable time:

  • Brexit
  • Covid Pinging/Isolation
  • Lack of European Workers
  • No micro-chips from Asia
  • Lack of supplies
  • Many others?

These are genuine reasons, but these reasons create habits that prevent us from trying to improve. I’m wondering if we are losing the purpose of “management” within a business which should include being creative, innovative, problem solvers and above all, involve others in getting things done.

Breaking the cycle of bad habits

Because of everything that has been going on, we can get into a negative cycle that reinforces negative results. In the case in this blog, poor customer service leading to less customers and, of course less income.

The negative cycle can be broken, but this takes the manager to choose to put themselves into that positive frame of mind. This can often be done by taking themselves away from the work situation pausing and reflecting on the positive opportunities a situation can give. this can be tricky on one’s own. It’s often achieved by getting together as a team and thinking through the positive outcomes of changing an approach or method. Especially after receiving consistent negative feedback from customers.

One of my favourite Deming models below, shows the “systems” in a business are driven by the way we think and then those work systems drive the behaviour of employees and ultimately the results. The big change is in thinking and the refreshed work systems that come out of it.

So, at the top of the model, positive thinking will lead to having the right work systems in place, and in the case of customer service in a small business this can be relatively easy. These work systems can be trained with new employees in a very short amount of time. However, if we think we can’t do it, we won’t.

Thinking right will create a positive culture and IT COSTS VERY LITTLE!

An example from a short brainstorming session...

Some simple “work systems” generated from a restaurant chain that was suffering from poor customer service. All done within a few minutes:

  • Always acknowledge the customer when they arrive at the premises, even though you’re busy and you can’t serve them straight away. Acknowledge them and explain you’ll be with him in a few minutes. It takes seconds.
  • When you give them the menus have a short chat with them. Ask them where they’ve been today or something similar and then you can build on this conversation the next time you see them with the food or when you take the order.
  • Don’t pester by hanging over them and constantly asking them if they like it. They’re going to like it because you’re going to get it right!
  • Remodel the payment process. Don’t expect customers to pay for their food before they have eaten it.


The above illustration is not representative for most managers in other businesses, however it does show that some amount of time taken out to review performance with employees is priceless.

If you would like to know more about how NewLeaf International helps organisations with Business Improvement and significant Organisational Development programmes, please make contact for an informal chat.


Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd

Tel: 01905 425209

Email: headoffice@newleafinter.co.uk