coopers-hawk-imageWhen a restaurant goes the extra mile, it gets my attention. When it goes the extra 5 miles, it’s time for an article.

Recently some friends and I went to Cooper’s Hawk in Naperville, IL – a popular, upscale restaurant/winery featuring a Napa Valley-like wine-tasting bar. As we were leaving, my wife pointed out some nice wine glasses in the gift shop, and I thought, Whew, now I know what to get her for Christmas! 

The next morning, in a blizzard, I happened to be in the same area. It was only 9 a.m., but I called the restaurant on the off chance the gift shop was open. A woman answered the phone and informed me the shop opened at 10. When I said I’d have to come back another time, her response was,

“If you want, come by now. I’ll open the store for you.”

Eh? What?  “Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Absolutely. We always try to help people out if we can. Just come to the door and give me a call – I’ll let you in. My name is Kat. I manage the store.”

Stunned, I headed over. A few minutes later, Kat Szeszak, Assistant General Manager (Naperville location), who couldn’t have been nicer, was helping me with the purchase and further charming me with her wine and restaurant business insights. She made me feel figuratively as well as literally as if I were the only customer in the store.

Naturally, thanks to the red carpet treatment, I bought more than I had planned.

Afterwards, when I started working on this article, I contacted Cooper’s Hawk through its website for more information, and got a quick response from Jennifer Gaba, Member and Guest Services, and soon thereafter photos and background from Melanie Pierce, Manager of Marketing Communications.

Four things about my experience are worth emphasizing:

  1. When Kat opened the store in the hope of satisfying one customer, she didn’t know whether I wanted to make a $10 or $1,000 purchase – her response was not tied to a transactional objective. How often do sales and customer service people go beyond the deal and see the bigger picture?
  2. The website response was fast, personal and enthusiastic. How often do you get all three of these in an online customer service experience? Doesn’t this combination turn casual customers into regulars, and regulars into brand evangelists?
  3. Consistency is key for delivering a great customer experience. My great experience with Kat could have been completely undermined by a poor website experience – or an inattentive server or hostess, for that matter. Customer service is everyone’s business.
  4. “Annoying” customers are opportunities in disguise. When a customer wants to disrupt your store opening in a blizzard, you can respond with a “yes” or a “no.” A “no” may be totally justified – but will it lead to repeat business and referrals?

Food for Thought 

Does your recipe for success include great customer service? What exactly are you doing to make fast, personal and enthusiastic customer service part of your staff’s DNA?

Disclosure: I was not compensated by Cooper’s Hawk or any other party in any way for this article.