I recently went to my lunch place for my usual salad. However my favorite waiter who makes my special requests simple and easy was not there. As I was being seated by another waiter, he said to me that he remembered my complex order last time, and that I didn’t eat the extra tomatoes I asked for. I didn’t realize that he was taking stock of my order. I was also slightly embarrassed as I was with a number of colleagues who wondered what on earth he was referring to.
Looking horrified at him, I asked him where Mike was and he said he was off today. I shouted out that it was a shame because Mike always gets my order just right. He makes my decaf tea perfect. Now, it was a make or break situation. Gabe as he called himself, could have chosen to treat me horribly the rest of the lunch or he could try to step up to the mark and help me forget that Mike was not there.
Well, something was triggered in Gabe because his whole demeanor changed. Instead of seeing me as the demanding, difficult customer that I was, he saw me and my salad requests as a challenge. Suddenly, every little thing I asked for was not a problem. In fact, my colleagues wondered what I actually said to Gabe as now he was truly looking after our needs and anticipating all of our requirements. As Gabe brought me out another decaf iced tea before I even asked for one, he and I shared a fist bump. Suddenly, I forgot about Mike. Gabe was going the extra mile. We got fast, good, efficient service and things before we even asked for them. Lunch was fun, enjoyable and my colleagues and I were happy that we went to this restaurant.
After we paid the bill and we were ready to go, Gabe came by and gave me an iced tea that he specially made for me to take away. That truly was the icing on the cake. The truth is, I don’t know why Gabe changed his tune, but he certainly rose to the challenge. As I think of what worked well, I could only think that we all gave him a chance. He also received positive feedback on everything he was doing throughout the lunch and we made light of a little competition with one of his colleagues. He liked that. He wanted lunch to be fun and light hearted and he took his job of servicing us very seriously.
Don’t give up on good service. It may need a little bit of coaching and we must not write anyone off. Never lower your expectations and at the same time don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Sometimes, as the customer, it is up to us to create the personal connection and make the effort to get what you want. Service is everyone’s responsibility.