Sunday, August 2, 2009

Good Customer Service

My brother owns a software company and emphasizes the importance of providing good service in order to attract and retain customers. I was reminded of this when I was shopping this weekend.

Saskatoon is prospering and is developing specialty food and drink stores. Cava Secreta is the city’s first specialty wine store, and two delicatessens have opened downtown this month.

I visited Souleio on Friday. The store and restaurant are in a heritage building, and it’s a very attractive, high-ceilinged facility. But they serve food on disposable plates: neither attractive nor environmentally-friendly. But I was pleased to see that they had chocolate hazelnut cheesecake on display – just what I was looking for. But, when asked, the staff told me that they were only selling it as a whole cake – it was too much trouble to cut it and serve slices. I wasn’t impressed.

Sous Chef has just opened a second downtown location. It’s a small deli with a more limited selection, but their staff were friendly. They provided detailed cooking instructions, told a joke and listened politely as I recommended that they offer more vegetarian options. And the stuffed Portobello mushroom was delicious and significantly cheaper than the square of chocolate cake that I had purchased at Souleio.

I’ll be a regular visitor at Sous Chef – but I won’t be visiting Souleio very often.

P.S. The staff at Cava Secreta are friendly, helpful and enthusiastic. That’s another store I’m happy to patronize.


Shelley said...

I have to agree with all of the above! I too had the stuffed mushroom at Sous Chef and it was awesome . . . as were the roasted veg and spanokopita I had with it! I'm so glad they now have a downtown location. Despite really liking their food I rarely made it over to their Ludlow Street location.

John B. said...

Catering is a branch of the entertainment business and selling fancy food in a store is the same.

Of course in your story the management policy on selling only whole cakes is sensible - processing and packaging individual portions means a higher cost per slice. The staff should of course have explained the policy was due to the need to ensure only fresh cake in the best condition was sold or given some other emollient explanation.

Quality of staff matters more than the quality of food. In my experience middle-aged women serving in stores can often be grumpy - the old and the young are OK.

I recall though that one evening I was with a group of acquaintances and I was laying down business principles when I realised my audience included several successful business men. I backtracked explaining that I had though never myself actually owned or run a business.

The reply came, "In that case you are the ideal consultant."