Advocate Editorial Board opinion: IHOP incident shows importance of courtesy

By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 5, 2013 at 1:05 a.m.

Customer service plays a vital role in the success of businesses. Every area of the economy relies on this principle, from restaurants and retail to hospitals and construction companies. Every business in our world offers some form of service and how they treat their customers has a direct impact on their business.

In late May, the story of a confrontation between customers and a manager at the International House of Pancakes in Victoria caught our attention. According to witness reports, Ed and Pat Sager, of Cuero, told former IHOP manager Samy Mohamed that their waitress needed a break. What followed was a heated confrontation that was partially caught on video by another customer and posted to YouTube.

In response to the video, Larry Lewis, the director of operations for the Victoria location and 14 other IHOP franchises in Texas, terminated Mohamed's employment with the company and flew in from North Carolina to speak with the Sagers.

We applaud Lewis and the leadership of IHOP for dealing with this situation quickly and working to correct a weakness in their business. Their quick response to customers' complaint and concerns shows they are invested in helping their restaurants succeed.

This incident should serve as a reminder and a warning to area businesses on the importance of quality customer service. Over the years, we have received numerous complaints of substandard service in the Victoria area, and we hate to think businesses in our hometown are developing a bad reputation. According to Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and best-selling business author, 78 percent of customers chose to take their business elsewhere because of poor customer service. This is an important statistic businesses should keep in mind. Every business relies on a steady stream of funds, which comes from customers willing to buy whatever products or services are offered. If companies do not offer reliable, quality service, customers have the option to take their business elsewhere.

On the other side of this equation, Hyken says 70 percent of Americans are willing to spend up to 13 percent more with companies they perceive as offering excellent customer service, and 59 percent are willing to try a different brand or company if they believe they will find better service. These numbers should inspire businesses to focus on the quality of the services they provide. A smile and a welcoming, courteous attitude are two simple steps that can make a difference and draw new customers.

Victoria is currently experiencing a period of economic growth, but that does not mean businesses can be complacent when it comes to service. If businesses want to continue to prosper, they must ensure customer service is a priority.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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