Tips for Improving Customer Service 1

Here’s a detailed list of some of the more effective service ideas in the business. Try ‘em if you like ‘em, and ditch ‘em if you don’t.

“From our customers”

Print those three words on every payday envelope in bold letters so your managers and staff never forget who signs their paychecks. Follow the “five-foot rule.” Offer assistance to or acknowledge any customer who is standing or passing within a five-foot radius of an employee.

The “Grandma” Rule

Never say anything to a guest that you wouldn’t say to your Grandmother. Keep your voice cheery, the tone civil, and leave the attitude in your car.


The word “welcome” should be used in all greetings, both at the front door, table and bar.

Open up

Hold doors open whenever possible for all incoming and outgoing customers. Smile!

Look at me/Smile at me/Talk to me/Thank me

I first heard those four steps of service from “Coach” Don Smith in 1987, and I’m here to tell you that if you want to boil down the basic behaviors of the Four Essentials of Service, there they are. Post them in your employee areas in your healthcare facility, retail store, restaurant, deli, or hotel. Those four steps are appropriate service behavior whether you’re a housekeeper or hostess.


To every guest request, teach your team to say these words: “It’s my pleasure!

Make everyone a CEO

Give every employee the power to make decisions on behalf of the customer without having to seek permission from the supervisor or manager on duty.

Choose your ‘tude

Cranky people annoy their teammates. Cranky people don’t make customers happy. Pleasant people make customers happier. Happy customers buy more. And come back more often. You have a choice. Pick and deliver the behavior and attitude that makes dollars and sense. To paraphrase the late comedian George Burns: ‘Sincerity is the most important thing in business. Once you can fake that, you can fake anything.’

Learn, use, and remember customers’ names

How do you get customers’ names? Ask them! At our restaurants you are asked your name as soon as the hostess greets you, even if the restaurant is half full. One hundred percent of the people give their name and then ask if there’s a wait. “No sir,” the hostess says warmly, “right this way, please, Mr. Jackson.” Then she passes the guest’s name on to the server and manager. The server can address the customer by name when greeting the table.

Grace under pressure

A service rule: the first one to get angry loses. Sure, it’s the 100th customer you talked to today, but it’s the first time they’ve talked to you. For the restaurant or deli server, it may be “just another meal,” but for the customer it’s always a special occasion.

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