How to create a culture of great customer service – the CTFM way

How to create a culture of great customer service – the CTFM way

Good customer service is powerful. Airline studies have shown that if a passenger has a good flight – one that departs and lands on-time and where everything goes smoothly – there’s a 50% likelihood that they’ll use the same airline again. If, however, things go wrong that are outside the airline’s control, but they go all out on the customer service side to fix it, the chance of someone returning to that airline rises to 95%.

Good customer service is very important, and it’s not rocket science. It’s based on good communication, and a genuine care for how people feel and how they experience your service.

It’s something that struck us when we recently sat down with Joshua Mlotshwa, the franchise owner of CTFM GrandWest, just outside Cape Town (read the full interview with him about the CTFM franchisee experience here ). When we asked him why he decided on buying a restaurant after a long corporate career, his answer was simple: he enjoys being of service to people. So instead of climbing the corporate ladder, he now owns a CTFM.

Because service is practically in Joshua’s DNA, we returned to GrandWest recently to sit down with two of his staff members, Nelisa Gontshi and Zaa Baxter, to find out more about the culture of service he’s creating. After talking with them about their work, we picked out three things that can help take any business’ customer service to the next level…

1. A culture of service starts at the top, not the bottom

Nelisa, front of house manager from the Eastern Cape who has been working at CTFM for the last 4 years was quick to point this out: ‘Working for Joshua is very good. He listens to us, we can ask him anything, and he will always help us solve any issues we have.’ In short, he treats his staff like a kind of customer. We always tend to think of the wait staff at a restaurant as the people who serve us, but it’s important to ask who’s serving them? At work and in their personal lives, if they aren’t receiving support they can’t provide the level of service our customers know they’ll find at a CTFM.

Nelisa - Credit Neels Kleynhans

Photo Credit: Neels Kleynhans

Zaa, also a professional waitress from Bellville who has been with us for an incredible 12 years pointed out the importance of leading by example: ‘I’ve had to train and mentor many other wait staff over the years, and even more than what you tell them, it comes down to how they see you behaving and interacting with customers. That’s one of the reasons why the service here is so good – Joshua leads by example both when he talks to customers and when he talks to us. We all try and follow his example.’


2. A smile goes for miles

At CTFM GrandWest, Nelisa is known for her bubbly personality and constant broad smile. In addition to the fact that it’s just who she is, she knows it’s good service. ‘Other people can make you feel good or they can make you feel bad. If you get bad service, you feel bad for the whole day, but if you smile and you are warm and friendly, it can make someone’s day better. And that can also make your food taste even better.’

According to Zaa, the GrandWest location just outside the casino adds an extra challenge. ‘Sometimes people lose money in the casino and they are unhappy when they come here for lunch. It can be a challenge making them feel better again, but it’s part of our job. We know we’ve provided good service if they leave smiling again after their meal.’

3. The menu isn’t just a menu – it’s a voyage of culinary discovery

‘I’ve been here for 12 years,’ Zaa tells us, ‘and in that time, I’ve learned to get to know the menu very well, and I always enjoy talking about it with customers. People enjoy personal recommendations. For example, I can’t get enough of CTFM’s tempura prawns, and it’s always nice to be able to tell someone when they’ve made a great choice. It can build anticipation, which makes the food taste even better.’

Nelisa told us about Joshua’s training on how to help customers understand the full potential of the menu. ‘He showed us how well our menu works together – which wines go with which dishes, which starters work best with which main courses, the kinds of sushi that are best for people who like spicy food, and much more. When we tell people how they can combine dishes, and how well certain things work together, they’re always very happy and interested in learning more.’

Ultimately, when you get up and leave your table after a great meal, it’s about the feeling you’re left with. The ambience, the company and the food are all integral to that, but nothing brings the experience together quite like a friendly smile, a little warmth, and great customer service.

Consider this our invitation to you to experience first-hand the culture of customer service we’ve created in each of our stores. From our founder, down to each member of staff – our passion for serving you a great meal is why  we’re here. You can find your nearest CTFM here – we’re open from 11am to 11pm 365 days a year.