It´s Good Friday and I´m in a very good mood. I decide to start my morning off with a country breakfast, following it up with a trip to Home Depot for yard stuff.
Since my favorite restaurant went out of business, I head to a nearby IHOP where my Toastmasters club meets. So is everyone else because the place is full, with people waiting. But sometimes there´s an advantage to being a party of one because I´m seated in less than 10 minutes. I sit there reading my newspaper and absorbing caffeine into my veins. Once in awhile I look around the restaurant. Sonia, my favorite waitress, is working another part of the restaurant. Michael, the manager has a full crew and they´re all working hard. He is acting as the host, seating people as their names are called, and keeping an eye on things. (Would you call that "Management By Walking Around?") He has a professional crew and they remind me of a finely choreographed ballet. I find myself wondering how many miles a waiter or waitress walks during a shift.
The kitchen is as efficient as the wait staff. My food arrives faster than expected and I dig in. But nearby someone´s order was a little slow and the waitress apologies sincerely and profusely. The customer understands. That´s the only glitch I see the entire time I´m there.
I draw several conclusions about the customer service experience. First, someone perhaps Michael, hired people with the right competencies for the position. They´re friendly, experienced, efficient, and don´t make mistakes.
Second, they´ve been well trained. They´re usually cross-selling, or checking back to see if your food is prepared well. (Not always a given in wait staff.) Some of the parties near me are in a hurry, and the staff only has to be told once before they see the check appear earlier than usual.
Third, they´re professional. They´re working hard, but when they´re talking or listening to you, you have their full attention. They´re probably tired and foot sore, but they don´t complain (at least not to the customers). They are friendly and smile when talking to you.
Fourth, as someone who consumes massive amounts of coffee, I appreciate the carafe of coffee they bring me. This keeps coffee loving customers like me from getting grumpy when the coffee cup empties and frees up the wait staff to do other things. Their policy of using carafes enhances the customer service experience.
As I leave, even more people are waiting. An elderly couple enters, and then pauses at the size of the waiting crowd, undecided about whether to stay or go elsewhere. I walk past them and say, "Good food, great service. Go on in." The wife replies, "Well then, I think we will."
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