I’d heard about Le Violon d’Ingres, a Michelin-starred restaurant near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. One of my foodie friends described his meal there as the best dining experience of his life. So my friend Shea and I agreed to meet there for lunch. We set the meeting time for noon. I planned to arrive at 11:45, just in case. I got off the Metro stop and started walking, trusting Google Maps to guide me to the restaurant. Suddenly, the routing and arrival time changed. Google now had me arriving at 12:30 instead of 11:45! I texted Shea to let him know, feeling more and more frantic with each passing minute. I felt terrible for making Shea wait and I was worried that we’d lose our reservation. My anxiety level was skyrocketing, but I was about to have an incredible customer experience.

A Great Customer Experience

Finally, I got in the general area of the restaurant, but couldn’t find it! Then, I spotted it and, as I approached the front door, the hostess smiled broadly, held the door, and said, in English, “Welcome Mr. Crawley. We’re so glad you’re here!” Wow! My anxiety level plummeted as quickly as it had skyrocketed earlier. She ushered me to our table and offered Shea and me a glass of champagne as she held my chair while I sat down. Then came the baguette with perfect French butter (Why is their butter so good?), followed by that wonderful and uniquely French tradition of the amuse-bouche, a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre that you don’t order, but which is offered by the chef. Well, the meal progressed from there and I’ll simply say that each course outdid the preceding course, and the wine selections were exquisite, but it gets better. As Shea and I are enjoying our main course, I stopped a gentleman from the staff who passed near our table and asked if there were a place nearby where we could get a couple of cigars. He explained there was one nearby, then offered to go get cigars for us, and have the staff set up a table on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. They would bring our desserts and after-meal drinks to the sidewalk table while we enjoyed our cigars. They not only brought us our desserts and drinks, but they plied us with a variety of exquisite chocolates as well.

My foodie friend was right. This was the most memorable dining experience of my life. The quality of the food was exceeded only by the appropriately attentive, nearly intuitive service.

So what does this have to do with IT?

Often, when your customer or co-worker comes to you with a problem, they’re in a state of panic, especially for those of you on the help desk. Your graciousness and welcoming attitude lets them know you’re here for them and ready to help, just like the hostess as Le Violon.

Your competence is what they expect. Just like the incredibly-prepared courses and knowledgeable wait staff were what Shea and I expected from a great restaurant, your customers and co-workers expect you to deliver a high level of technical competence, nothing less.

Finally, the staff’s ability to anticipate our needs without being intrusive or overly familiar and to go way above and beyond the ordinary and the mundane is what took an outstanding dining experience and raised it to the most memorable dining experience of my life.

Amazing IT customer service starts from the moment you answer the phone or greet your customer or co-worker in person. When you show warmth and confidence, you immediately put your customer at ease. Then, you do everything to ensure you have a high level of technical competence so you can solve their problem quickly, and combine that with anticipating their needs while maintaining a gracious and accommodating demeanor. That’s what makes for a great customer experience and that’s what great customer service is all about.

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