Listening to customers

You can’t go to a restaurant now-a-days without the waiters asking you in the middle of your meal, especially when your mouth is full, ‘How is your meal sir?’

‘Mpmph. gmood,’ is your typical reply and then they’re gone, as quickly as they appeared.

What they’re trying to do is something similar to what we see in this post, Mingling with the customers , but with far less success:

I’d look on as he mingled with diners, mostly making idle chit chat. With strangers he’d walk up to their tables as they ate and ask them how their meals were. At the tables of regulars he might sit down and share a drink, maybe even roll some dice. It was a fantastic excuse for a job. Or so I thought.

It turned out that my dad had the most important job in the place. His endless conversations with patrons clued him into changes he needed to make on the menu. He was quickly able to comp a round of drinks if customers received slow service, nipping their frustration in the bud.

Customers are not stupid–they can make out the difference between someone who’s asking because “management” has told them to and someone who’s asking because they care.

I remember an experience I had at an Italian restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Our waitress was a young woman, Heidi, with an infectious smile and a great deal of enthusiasm. She explained the specials as if she’d cooked them herself. I still remember her almost seven years later.

When you’re in the business of serving customers, your passion or lack of it comes through, and it can make a huge difference. I doubt that many people get this–that’s why companies have so many unhappy customers.

The ones that get it, they’re doing pretty well I’d imagine.

PS: Hat tip to Signal vs. Noise for the link.

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