The Deli – A Story of Customer Service.

Customer service tends to be more of a mantra or just well written lines on a company's wall in these parts of the world. How often have you been welcomed with a greeting and a smile when you entered a company's office? How many employees actually say thank you for your patronage or even recognise that you haven't been around in a while? Customer service is dead if it lacks action that adds real value to the customer and shows genuine care. The next casualty is the business itself even if the product is world class and the strategy was developed by the best brains in town. In this article we share a story with you about a business that has embraced four important things that make for good customer service in any business.

JUNE 2013 • Tsuwa Thompson

Picture: The Deli, Mövenpick Hotel, Accra

In This Article

Sometimes the best way to pass across a message is to tell a story. We are good at telling stories in Africa though we tend to put a little spin on some which I will do my best not to do because this one has to do with the dicey issue of customer service. This story is about the Deli, a place of smiles and genuine service coupled with good and affordable cuisine.

Often I go to the Deli to have a meeting and to relax on the odd Saturday and over time I noticed something different. I noticed real customer service and wondered what they did to get it right. Trust me when I say I have been to many places and it’s hard to impress me. So I watched a little more and asked an innocent question or two and realised that their secret stemmed from four things.

Teamwork isn’t a slogan at the Deli – The ladies and gent at the Deli actually work together and support one another. You can see the division of labour with its associated efficiencies but each one of them has the other’s back. I asked one of them what makes you want to come to work every day and she responded saying, “it’s fun and we work like a family”. The cohesive nature of this team eliminates service gaps and keeps customers happy and even more understanding when there is a delay or two. No turf wars at the Deli just smiles and service for customers that walk through their doors.

Training isn’t a promise, it’s a must – Most organisations have fancy words about how they care about their people under their ‘careers’ tab on their websites but how many really bother to make their people better? Deli team members aren’t just pulled off the street and expected to work magic because they have squeaky clean uniforms and a better pay cheque. Deli staff are trained before they get the honour of talking to customers like you and I so they can deliver unparalleled service. It doesn’t stop there; the Deli team is trained post resumption at different intervals to ensure their competence stays at the best levels. Each member of the team can dish out any snack or meal you desire with a smile as well as the other without compromising your taste buds. True customer service is all about adding value to your customers and this is near impossible if businesses refuse to add value to their front line staff.

Deli managers actively support the team – I remember an experience a colleague narrated to me. He was frustrated with a manager who spent all her time making calls and questioning his every word and action. I tried to play mediator and dug a little deeper to understand what was going on and my colleague’s real frustration was that his manager had never visited the sales field and was only making assertions based on ‘MBA theory’. Deli managers are far from the sales manager above. They actually engage their team members and give them continued guidance to ensure quality service. If it isn’t good enough Deli managers step in and they are open to feedback. “My colleagues are great and helpful and so are the managers” – this is the testimony of a member of the Deli team.

Deli staff earn competitive salaries – The bright atmosphere at the Deli isn’t just tied to teamwork, training and supervision alone. The staff are paid competitive salaries or so one of them said. There are two things that I know tend to prevent front line staff from doing their jobs well – physical hunger and financial hunger and both are interlinked. Deli staff are all smiles (99% of the time) and they exhibit a focused mindset which leads to solid customer service. In view of this, I am constrained to concur with their team mate who says the pay isn’t all bad and let me say that it goes to make good icing on the cake of Deli’s customer service.

So there you have it, four important things that make for good customer service in any business. Jeff Bezos, the Chief Executive Officer of Amazon said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” I believe the Deli is heeding to Jeff Bezos’ words, what is your business doing differently to make your customers’ experiences a little better?


About the Author

Tsuwa Thompson is the Chief Executive Officer of RtHE Consult Limited and is in no way an agent of the Deli neither does he have any relationship with them apart from being a loyal customer.