In todays blog post I want to share an experience I recently had in hanoi visiting a restaurant called “Ngon Villa”. I found that the topic of customer service today is a very important one, in the past often times overlooked or neglected and still so much room for improvement in the future. No matter what business you are in, once you offer a service to someone else, how you treat customers will decide if you gonna be successful or not.
I found Ngon Villa on tripadvisor and thought I should give it a shot based on the reviews. Tripadvisor is my #1 portal to look up recommendations when I travel, although I have to admit that I am usually not a big fan of all the touristy places (if something is rated high on tripadvisor, you can be sure you will see shitloads of tourists). Since I got family in Vietnam, I rather stick to the locals because they usually know best.
The first impression matters
However, I took my little cousin out for lunch at Ngon Villa (it literally means: “Villa Delicious”) and was positively surprised about the friendly staff and hospitality. You would expect that any upper class restaurant should offer superior service and in a perfect world it would be the case but unfortunately we all know that 99% of the time the service is shit to ok.
When we arrived we were greeted by the friendly staff and later the owner who apologised for not having any seats available in the upper floor anymore and if it was ok if we sit on the ground floor (upper floor had a better view). We actually didn’t really ask to get a place upstairs, but his apology gave us a warm and welcome feeling and it really felt that he cared about us.
During the whole lunch the staff was super courteous and accommodating and you feel kind of special when they realise that you are not from here and start to ask questions. It’s in our human nature that we love people asking about us and wanting to know more about our stories. It makes us feel special and everyone wants to feel special, right?
And the last impression matters even more
At the end of our lunch the owner accompanied us to the entrance and made sure that we had a good time. He was really open to feedback and told us to let him know what he could improved. This question is different from the usual “Did you have a good time?” because it was directed into the direction of how to make things better instead of being an open question with endless possibilities of outcome. My question: how would you reply? Or a better question is: how many times in your life did the owner escorts you to the outside and asks for feedback? I can only speak for myself but I was NEVER asked that question before.
Furthermore he noticed my little accent when speaking vietnamese and asked me about my background story which made me feel special again. *success*
For those of you who know me, I love food but have you noticed that I didn’t talk about food at all in this article? Because it was secondary. In fact, the food was ok. I know better vietnamese places to be honest. It was even overpriced for what you get, which is the case for almost any upper class restaurant. BUT the customer service in this case was outweighing everything else. In fact, I am considering going there again although the food didn’t blow me away by any means.
The customer service and friendliness of the staff was so good that the food was only secondary.
Again it shows how important it is to choose and train the staff well, that it takes care of your customers. If you run a bigger business such as a restaurant, you cannot be there 100% of the time and therefore you need staff that you can trust and that takes care of your customers.
My second takeaway is that you should try to build a relationship with your customers. Don’t see your business as a exchange of services, but rather a platform to build relationships. The former is purely transaction based where your mindset is like “thank you. I hope you liked our service and hopefully see you again.” whereas the latter is value based: “I really want to keep in touch because you are a great person. What can I do?”. Try to connect with people on a personal and emotional level and try to make everyone feel important and put them in the center of the universe. I am not saying you should make friends with everyone but the ultimate goal should be creating longterm relationships and trust with customers. There will be always good and bad customers and for your business it is important that you choose the good customers and strengthen the relationship with them.
Because in the end trust leads to friendships and friendships potentially lead to new opportunities which can make you more successful.