My wife and I were sitting in a well-known chain restaurant. It was about 9:00 on a Friday night. We chose this restaurant because it´s usually quiet about this time, even on a Friday. (And they have good pie!)
After about 30 minutes, we found ourselves eating and chatting and generally enjoying the chance to relax after a busy week. Everything was good in our world!
Then, in an instant, our world was turned upside down!
The hostess sat a noisy group right next to us. They were talking so loud I had to raise my voice so my wife could hear me. What bugged us was that there were dozens of other empty tables all over the restaurant. The section we were in had at least 18 tables and booths and we were the only people there (until the loud talkers arrived). Not ten minutes later, they sat another larger and louder group on the other side of us.
It wouldn´t take much in the way of observational skills to notice we were having a nice QUIET dinner. So, why did our thoughtful hostess decide to seat the NOISY group right next to us?
I decided to ask the manager. She told me:
“We do it that way to help our employees.”
Of course I already knew this. They cluster people so their servers don´t have to walk as far. It equates to more efficient service because the customers are closer together. In my experience, most restaurants in the USA do this.
From the restaurant manager´s point of view, this seems to make sense. And from the employees point of view it also seems to make sense.
But does it REALLY make sense?
My answer is no.
This is bad policy from everyone´s perspective. It´s bad because it completely ignores what customers want. And if it ignores what customers want then there´s a good chance customers will be frustrated, like we were.
(Note to restaurant managers and servers: frustrated customers tend to leave smaller tips and are less likely to come back.)
This simple policy, implemented with good intentions is a classic example of how many businesses turn off customers. It´s a perfect example of why many people refuse to offer their loyalty to businesses. It shows clearly what´s wrong with the way so many of our companies are managed.
Too many people, when doing their jobs, think it´s all about them. They think it´s all about their company, their business, their employer.
People who think (and act) that way leave out the desires of the most important person in the room: the customer. It all starts with what our customer wants. Our job is to help them get what they want within the context of what we can do for them. In other words, we don´t promise to move Heaven and Earth for them. But we do need to focus on how we can help them get what they want.
If we forget that our customers have no compelling reason to stick with us. Why would they not go elsewhere? Even more important than chasing them elsewhere is to answer the question: “why are we in business in the first place?”