Training Top 125 Best Practice: Truly Memorable Customer Service at Penn Station, Inc.

The company’s customer service initiative trains on both direct and indirect means of impacting the customer experience, as well as providing “Enhanced Customer Service” procedures.

Penn Station, Inc., sells franchises of its East Coast Subs “quick casual” restaurants. The company’s customer service initiative began in 2008, and crosses over all of its formal training processes, from managing owners to managers and hourly employees. All of these programs train on both direct and indirect means of impacting the customer experience, as well as providing “Enhanced Customer Service” procedures. Rather than taking “being nice to the customers” for granted, Penn Station has broken down most, if not all, of the opportunities to interact with customers, and this has become one of the cornerstones of its training.

Program Details

Through printed media, training videos, in-person training, and regular reinforcement, Penn Station provides its franchisees the tools and feedback needed to create a culture of great customer service. Part of what makes this program unique and effective is that despite systematically teaching the varying points of contact, the Enhanced Customer Service procedures do not require the crew members or managers to follow a script, but rather encourages them to use their individual personalities to honestly and genuinely connect with customers. Each employee is trained on properly greeting, thanking, and checking on customers with the goal of meeting their expectations and needs at every opportunity.

In addition to describing each point of the customer experience that provides the opportunity for interaction, Penn Station also defines and describes the opportunity to impact the customer at each point in the production process. This serves to frame everything the organization does in terms of how it impacts the customer.

Penn Station monitors the training on the Enhanced Customer Service procedures through several avenues, including:

  • Written tests
  • Ability to demonstrate the behavior
  • In-depth performance evaluation

The training also emphasizes speed of service, quality product, and a clean enviroment as aspects of customer service, as they directly impact the overall customer experience. The 1,000-point performance evaluation serves as both a monitoring tool and a training tool for these behaviors. Approximately 22 percent of the overall score is generated directly by customer service behaviors, and more than 70 percent of the score by the “customer impact” areas of quality, customer service, and cleanliness.

Results

Since the adoption of the Enhanced Customer Service procedures and the accompanying training methods, sales systemwide have increased by approximately 6.1 percent, and Penn Station has been awarded 29 “Best of” market awards in various trade areas. It also was awarded the No. 1 ranking, Sandwich Segment of the Consumer Picks survey conducted by WD Partners and Nation’s Restaurant News in 2015.

Training Top 125

2017 Training Top 125 winners demonstrated a strong focus on effective training and employee development tied to corporate strategic goals and business impact.

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