Excellent Customer Service!

· by Herb Dew

Herb is the CEO of HTI. He founded HTI in 1999 along with John Knight and David Sewell, and remains heavily involved in the organization today.
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I hope when someone asks our customers one thing they value about HTI they say “we can tell they care about us, not just our business”. I think one of the things that separates us from many of our competitors is our willingness to go the “extra mile” because WE WANT TO. We are fortunate. We like and maintain great relationships with almost all of our existing customers on a more personal level. Anyone can fill a job with minimal training, but NOT everyone can go above and beyond with a customer. Little things like remembering birthdays, stopping by and saying hi when you don’t have to, watching out for things in their industry that might be of interest to them, remembering their families, etc. Really when it comes down to it…providing great customer service is expressing that you actually CARE about both the company AND the people in it. The business that they give you ends up being secondary.

I decided to write this after having a remarkable experience in Charleston this last weekend. My wife Shannon and I had reservations to eat dinner at a place called “Halls” in downtown Charleston on King Street. We were down for a weekend away and had been told about eating there. All that day when people asked us where we were eating and we told them “Halls” they would say “oh my gosh you’re going to love it!”. Every single person said that.

I wondered what could be so special about a steak place?

I understand now. I witnessed perhaps the greatest “touch” customer service I’ve ever seen. We arrived early for our 8 pm reservation Saturday night. At the door greeting everyone sincerely was the owner of the restaurant. He asked our names and then introduced us to the bartender where we waited. I watched as he personally greeted each customer as they came in, each time in a very personal way. They were quite busy, and the restaurant seated well over 100 people plus a bar.

We were taken upstairs. The owner came over to us and had a waiter carry our drinks upstairs where we were seated in an excellent location. Upstairs the owners’ mother circled the room introducing herself and asking about the patrons. She came to our table and greeted us each by our first names. She spoke with us long enough to have us feel welcome while not overstaying her welcome. Our waitress arrived soon after that. She in turn greeted us by “Mr. and Mrs. Dew”. This was interesting because we had used our first names downstairs but apparently she had reviewed the reservation and saw our last names.

Needless to say the dinner was as good as the service. Glasses refilled as soon as we needed. Steaks cooked to perfection. Our waitress was around often, but not intrusively. It was a fabulous experience.
As we walked down the stairs to leave the owner was busy with other patrons. We walked out and turned left to head towards our car, totally happy with our dinner. Suddenly we hear a “Herb, Shannon!”. We turned and there was the owner. He had noticed that we had left and walked out to follow us. “How was your meal?” “It was fabulous” we replied. “Thank you for joining us tonight, it was great having you with us!”. “Thank you, we were as impressed as we have ever been. Not just because of the food, but because of how you treated us!” we said. “That is what it’s all about, right?” he said.

“Yes. That IS what it’s all about,” I thought. Some of the best customer service I have ever had. Sincerity and appreciation for being a customer. We will go back again. Often.

His service level inspired me to write this blog entry on customer service. It’s also inspired me to look at how we provide customer service and ask ourselves, how we can improve our service level so that we have customers saying to others “you need to call HTI, they are the BEST!”

Herb Dew
President, HTI