Inside Look: How to Make the “Special Sauce” of Excellent Customer Service

Winning ideas stand out to me, even when enjoying a fine dinner of fresh grouper and a glass of red wine.

So it was recently at Duval’s restaurant in Sarasota, FL, where I was impressed by the shared responsibility, customer service teamwork of the staff.

According to  Joshua Halbrucker, the restaurant’s General Manager/Partner, their approach is simple:

“Treat every customer like they are your mother (and if you don’t like your mother… haha, treat them like someone you love dearly and would do anything for).”

Duval's Logo

Our waiter orchestrated the evening and was our primary service provider. He was friendly and effective. Where Duval’s stood out, though, was the totality of service provided. The entire team, regardless of title or role, formed a rapid-response customer service unit. Whenever someone passed by our table, he/she did so attentively and ready to act. For instance:

  • Need more bread? Coming right up.
  • Low on water? Be right back.
  • Appetizers finished? I’ll clear your plates.

It was customer-focused versatility in action, all geared to make sure that Duval’s provided us with an excellent dining experience. As one of the managers told me after dinner: “I tell the team to look at the tables as you walk by and if the customers need something, take care of it.”

A few days later, I reached out to Joshua Halbrucker to learn more about the restaurant’s operating philosophy. He answered my questions via email. Look for a number of marketing and business nuggets, some of which I’ve highlighted, followed by my three takeaways for your company. Continue reading

Basketball-Playing Cop Demonstrates Power of Touchpoint Marketing

Everything can be marketing and everyone can be a marketer.

Officer Bobby White and neighborhood basketball players. Credit: Gainesville, FL police department.

Officer Bobby White and neighborhood basketball players. Credit: Gainesville Police Department.

Consider the unlikely example of Officer Bobby White from the Gainesville, FL police department. The policeman responded to a complaint of kids playing basketball too loudly on a residential street. Maybe the neighbor who called police should have been investigated, but I digress.

What does this police story have to do with marketing?

Everything. As you’ll see in the video below, Officer White produced more in a few minutes than any multi-million dollar community relations campaign the town of Gainesville could have commissioned. Continue reading

Shake My Head Marketing (Automation Run Amok)

Beware the unintended consequences of marketing automation gone awry.

Even one or two misdirected emails has the potential to threaten the customer experience and brand goodwill that your company has worked so hard to build.

For example, imagine my surprise to see this Planet Fitness email after I returned from the gym last night:


Planet Fitness - We Want You Back - 2

Wow.  Guess I was lucky to get in.

Continue reading

Turn Customer Listening into Learning and Go-To-Market Action

Good things can happen when you listen to customers.

Consider Hostess Brands,  which “has nurtured retail sales of its products nearly back to their pre-liquidation level of more than $1.3 billion in 2012” as reported by Julie Jargon in The Wall Street Journal.

Credit: Captain Cupcake1 Flickr

Credit: Captain Cupcake1 Flickr

This summer, the company expanded the Hostess brand product range with white and wheat bread along with hamburger and hot dog buns.

Why is Hostess getting into bread?  They listened carefully to customers and realized there was a business opportunity. Continue reading