Patrons who walk through the door of Edmonton’s Corso 32 are almost inevitably assured of impeccable home-style Italian fare created by owner/chef Daniel Costa and his team. 

Happy staff = happy customers

But it’s what’s not on the menu that plays an equal role in the accolades heaped on the Jasper Avenue restaurant, which has won multiple awards since opening nearly six years ago.

“Our service is what sets us apart… We want people to feel welcome, and we take the time to ensure our customers are in good hands from the moment they step inside. My staff is like family, and they see how much I care, and that reflects on them, too.”

—Daniel Costa

Costa says he takes staff development seriously, offering monthly wine tastings and other training to ensure his servers are able to impart their knowledge with patrons about food pairings, for example. It’s a recipe for success that has made Corso 32—named for the address of Costa’s father’s home in Italy—one of Edmonton’s most remarkable culinary destinations. 

Success stories like this are music to the ears of Edmonton businessman Mike Mack, whose company X5 Management offers business consulting and customer service training to help companies stand out among their competitors. 

Customer service is within your control

Mack recently published a book—Remarkable Service: Be the Business Everyone’s Talking About—to share his three decades of experience with company leaders and other entrepreneurs who may be struggling during the economic downturn.

“In good times and in bad, customer service is the one thing that any business can control,” says Mack, who does not know Costa personally, but praises Corso 32 in his book for offering an impeccable dining experience. “They are extremely good at what they do, and customers keep coming back,” he writes. “They treat you like you are entering their home.”

The book explores theories and practical realities behind being a remarkable service provider including anecdotes, case studies, and strategies that business people can use to stay competitive. His “Key Mistakes to Avoid” include:

  • Failing to develop concrete mechanisms to get customer service feedback. “When was the last time that you looked at all aspects of your business from the perspective of your customer?” asks Mack.
  • Turning a blind eye to issues involving an unhappy customer. “When a service challenge occurs (and it will), be nice when resolving issues. Don’t try to prove the customer wrong!”
  • Neglecting to define employee roles and responsibilities when it comes to customer support. “Too often we hear things like, ‘That wasn’t my job, I thought it was yours’.”

The right person for the job

The value of putting customers first is echoed by Daniel Franke, Operations Manager of RBW Group, an Edmonton-based business which operates waste management services and industrial supplies. Mack’s company does ongoing training and coaching work with the family-owned business.

“Customer service is in the DNA of our organization, and that’s an important way to stand out among the other businesses selling similar products or services. We put a lot of effort into finding the right person for the job, and every single person here knows the customer comes first… You need to invest in your staff because they are the bridge to your customer.”

—Daniel Franke

It’s not rocket science

At the end of the business day, says Mack, demonstrating value to customers isn’t rocket science and it looks pretty much like this:

  • Offer to meet with the customer or prospect when it’s most convenient for them.
  • Provide valuable tips and insight, and don’t expect to be compensated for this at the outset of your relationship.
  • Ask questions before making any attempt to sell your product or service (make it all about them).
  • Earn trust before earning the sale.
  • Show the benefits that your services have provided other customers.