Building excellent customer experience in Craig, Moffat County |

Building excellent customer experience in Craig, Moffat County

By Michelle Perry Balleck Special to the Craig Press
Brenda Elsbree, left, and Chris Nichols, right, lead a discussion with businesspeople at a Blend workshop titled, “Quality Service Starts at the Top,” on Feb. 28 at Frontier Station, Inc. The couple focused on employer-led trainings to ensure an excellent customer experience.
Michelle Perry Balleck/courtesy

CRAIG — When it comes to providing an excellent customer experience, the culture of service starts with leadership, according to Chris Nichols and Brenda Elsbree.

The couple led a discussion with a crowd of 16 businesspeople during the Blend workshop titled, “Quality Service Starts at the Top,” on Feb. 28 at Frontier Station, Inc.

Nichols spent his entire 42-year career in the “quick service” food industry. The couple sold its four McDonald’s restaurants — located in Craig, Steamboat Springs, Granby and Winter Park — last spring.

“It’s the little things that make customer service,” Nichols said. “It’s the difference of how you serve those customers that makes the difference.”

Elsbree noted that it’s critical to be specific in expectations for employees, details such as greeting customers immediately, making eye contact, smiling and listening intently.

“Inspect what you expect from your people and out of yourself,” Nichols said. “It starts with you, and it ends with you.”

The inspection process entails following up with employees on training and holding them accountable.

Sometimes, of course, there will be a dissatisfied customer, and how the company or its representatives handle that dissatisfaction affects the customer’s likelihood to return.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out what went wrong,” Nichols said. “Then, fixing it is relatively easy.”

Elsbree noted that, if a customer is complaining, he or she wants to come back and patronize that business again.

“They’re giving you the opportunity to keep them as a customer,” Elsbree said.

Nichols suggests utilizing employees who have demonstrated excellent skills to train other employees in providing great customer service. He said it’s often easier to learn from a peer than from a boss.

In general, Nichols said, the key to a great customer experience is making a genuine connection between the employee and the customer.

“Look for the opportunities to go to the extra mile and wow that customer,” Nichols said. “Interaction is one of the biggest opportunities we have as a workforce.”

Blend workshops are hosted from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month by Colorado Northwestern Community College, Craig Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Workforce Center and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership at Frontier Station, 277 Ranney St.

To be added to the mailing list for future Blend workshops, email