I recently struck up a conversation with some folks in the restaurant business. As we talked about the various aspects of running a restaurant, from the long hours to the impossible-to-satisfy patrons, the owner mentioned that one of the most important things he had learned from his years in the business was about the front of the house staff – the hosts, waiters, bartenders, etc.

“The front of the house is the most important part of the business. A bad experience with the front of the house will ruin a great meal, and a great experience with the front of the house can make an okay meal excellent.”

Thinking back to my own experience, I’d have to agree. Oftentimes when I return again and again to a restaurant, it has more to do with the people than the food itself. This got me to thinking about this same phenomenon in other areas of business. A company can make a great product, but if the service experience people have with the customer service agents is terrible, the overall feeling your customers will have about the product will be negative, and vice versa. If you think about highly successful companies like Zappos, they aren’t offering a great product – you can buy shoes anywhere. But the experience a customer receives from their interactions with the staff is superior to their competitors.

In today’s market, it is nearly impossible to sell a product or service to customers that  is so great that it can overcome terrible customer service. Imagine how good the food would have to be at a restaurant that you would endure a rude, inattentive wait staff.  You are much more likely to eat somewhere that the staff will be friendly and accommodating. Similarly, your customers will find other companies to purchase similar products and services where they can also receive the service experience they expect.

So, are you treating your ‘front of the house’ as the most important part of your business? Are you investing sufficient time, energy, and resources to make sure your customers will remain loyal? Whether it is the experience on the phone or on your website, customers are demanding a higher quality of customer care to go along with the quality of products and services you ‘re cooking up in the kitchen.

(Kelly Koelliker is Product Marketing Manager, KANA)