sub specie aeternitatis

Going Out of Your Way for the Customer is a GOOD Thing People

October 27, 2005

It’s 12:00. I’m hungry, with $20 in my pocket. The choice between walking home to make a sandwich and stopping by to get some pizza really isn’t a choice.

I take the short walk to a pizza place across from campus. Never been there before, but I’ve heard good things about it. Might as well give it a try.

The place is packed. Food must not be too bad if this many people show up for lunch. I grab a booth, order a sausage pizza, and commence reading a book.

8 minutes later, my pizza arrives. It’s not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but it’s good. I scarf down the pie while enjoying my book. By the time I finish the place is even busier so I figure I ought not take up space longer than necessary.

I pack up my stuff, grab the ticket and head for the front cash register. Two people in front of me are picking up and ordering take out.

I wait patiently. The meal was good, and the service was acceptable.

The lady at the cash register asks how she can help me.

I’d like to pay for my meal, please.

You have to pay your waitress.

And that’s all she says. Not, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, or let me find your waitress for you so you can pay. Just, you have to pay your waitress.

This, my friends, is a perfect example of bad service. I am a guest in your restaurant. You have established a set of rules to help your business run smoothly. I understand this. But without me, your paying customer, you wouldn’t have a business to run. Little things like letting me pay for my meal when I’m ready to walk out the door instead of making ME go chase down my waitress to pay for my meal can really turn away customers. How can you do it better? Here’s an example:

A couple comes into my restaurant. She wants an ice tea, he wants a Sprite. I go back to get their drinks, but discover we’re out of Sprite. I ask the owner (also the main chef) if we have any Sprite. Instead of telling me to ask the customer to order something else, he says we will in just a few minutes. He flies out the back door leaving his assistant to work on meals he is in the middle of preparing. 3 minutes later he pops back in, two 20 ounce Sprites in hand he bought at the bar across the street. This, my friends, is GOOD service. The customer never needs to know your rules and regulations, only that he can get what he wants. Customers are happy. Servers are happy. Owner is happy. Amazing what can happen when you stop worrying about your rules and regulations and go out of your way to satisfy your customer.