Merge's Blog

What brings your clients back? Is it what you sell or is it your customer service?

This past August, I was in Shanghai China for several speaking engagements. One evening, my host took me to dinner at Hai de Lao, a very popular chain of “hot-pot” restaurants. If you’re wondering what “hot-pot” is – basically, you’re brought a boiling pot of soup and you spend the rest of your dinner dunking in and cooking as many different kinds of vegetables and meats that you want. Needless to say, the food was fantastic, but it turns out that Hai de Lao is making its mark on the restaurant scene not just for their food, but also for their customer service! Since it’s not uncommon to have to wait up to an hour for a table during peak hours, the restaurant seeks to keep you entertained. First, you’re seated at a table in the “waiting section” while you wait for a hot-pot table to open up. Fleet-footed waiters bring you unlimited plum beverages, free Chinese “popcorn” and slices of fresh fruit. Children are presented with a small toy and tagged with their parents’ table number before being escorted to the in-house playground. When your hot-pot table is ready, the staff will bring your kids back to you. And while you’re whiling away the minutes, you can watch TV, play video games or even play poker. And if that isn’t enough, you can get a shoeshine, a massage or even a manicure, all on the house. The fun isn’t over when you finally make your way to your hot-pot table. The staff give you aprons so your clothes stay clean and plastic covers so your cell phones stay spotless! And yes, for table-side entertainment, there’s a chef spinning through the restaurant whipping pulled noodles into ribbon-sized lengths to be added to your hot-pot. Wow, now that’s customer service!

Do your clients shop at or frequent your department or organization just as much for your customer experience as for the product or service that you deliver? It doesn’t matter whether you deal with internal clients or external shoppers, are your customers talking about the service you deliver as much as whatever it is you sell or provide? If your answer is yes, please share with everyone. If your answer is no, then why not? Please add your comments below.

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