A quick customer service story

This is not a photo of Nigel!

Yesterday I went to my favourite butchers to pick up some bits. They had a new team member, let’s call him Nigel. The chain of shops are a social enterprise run by two young brothers, they employ excons and previously troubled individuals and train them as butchers so they can so develop a trade….. just my kind of place. However at this time of year, as it gets so busy they have to employ a couple of experienced old time butchers to get over the Christmas rush. Nigel is one of those.

Nigel took my order, dead pan, no smile, no friendly butchery chat…. ” Morning Mrs F, How’s the Husband? what can I delight you with today… wink wink!” Nada, nothing, nil.
As he went to hand me the credit card machine, I spotted a small shin of beef… so said, actually Nigel can I take that too, I know it’s only small but I’ll have it anyway, … just to make you smile! Again nothing, not even a slight twinkle of the eye.

Nothing aggravates me more than miserable service. 

The young owner, looked at him and said, this is MJ she’s amazing at customer service, she won’t like you not smiling !
Nigel’s reply…. I have been doing this job for 50 years no one can teach me anything.
My reply… well I most definitely could not teach you about butchery, but me aside, ‘every days a school day’

His reply…. Not me. No one is better than anyone else.

My reply.. I agree no one is better but sometimes I am lucky enough to meet incredible people who teach me something.

He snorted as he processed my card and moved on……. except that he had charged me double by mistake!

I had to wait for another twenty minutes while he finished serving someone else also with the same dead pan expression, to point out the mistake. His response was that he could not have made a mistake, I read the receipt wrong……btw he definitely he had! Luckily the credit card slip proved it. Eventually the owner and I managed to fix it and work out what he’d done wrong.

Petty of me I know but I could not resist saying… you see every days a school day with a smile!
However my fellow customers summed it up beautifully, albeit with a smile “ooh saying you had all this experience and could not learn has really come back to bite you!”
Nigel’s glare could have melted snow.

If that had been my first visit, I would not have returned. Actually if it was not for the fact that I really want to support these lads I would not return.

What is the moral of the story? no matter how good your concept is, the quality of the food, beds, drinks, admin. Service is everything… it only takes one employee with a bad attitude to lose a customer. If you make a mistake occasionally, we all do, they are more likely to forgive you if you have given friendly service.

Consistency is everything.


mjinspire develops customer service programs for teams across the hospitality, retail and service industries. Visit www.mjinspire.com for more details.

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