I’m a millennial which means if I can make a reservation online, I’m going to do that versus calling an actual person. Some people might complain that I’m putting people out of a customer service job, but my experience has dictated that maybe some of these customer service people are doing more harm for a brand than good.
My boyfriend and I were planning a trip to Virginia for the upcoming weekend and I offered to make a reservation at an Italian restaurant the night we got there. We had two recommendations from people in the area, and neither were connected to OpenTable so I had to call. At the first restaurant, a woman picked and abruptly asked me to hold. She then parked the call. Silence. I know none of us really enjoy the elevator music that plays when we are on hold, but it was actually more unsettling to hear silence. I kept looking back down at my phone to make sure we hadn’t been disconnected.
After a while, she came back. I attempted to make a reservation for 2 people when she cut me off - “We don’t take reservations for two people in the fall.” Oh, ok. “It’s first come first served,” she said. Alright. I proceeded to ask what time she recommended we get there, but she seemed to anticipate my complaining, and explained that fall is their busy season and that’s why they don’t take reservations. Ok, noted. That’s not what I was going to ask, but fine. I hurried to get off the phone. After, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “I hope their food is better than their service.”
We’re not from the area, we don’t know anything about this restaurant other than it came highly recommended. That one interaction though gave me a sense of a frantic, overworked, tired staff who really didn’t care. Was that a fair assessment? Probably not. But it left me feeling not good, and a feeling is part of your brand - no matter who you are.
We called the second restaurant and the woman answered with a much more pleasant tone. She was glad to take our reservation, she was glad to accommodate for our time, it was a simple exchange - took less than a minute, but I quickly felt myself ease into the excitement of the trip versus the stress of trying to find a place to eat.
Service is a part of your brand - even if it’s “just the person answering the phones.” Whatever your first contact is with the public - be that the person at the front desk, your website, or YOU out in the community, it’s important that your brand speaks to people. We all have bad days (even websites need a refresh after awhile), but managing those expectations the best that you can will set the right tone and feeling towards your brand.