My kiddo had a holiday and my wife was bored with cooking. So today, we went out for lunch.
Now, this wasn’t the first time, I was dining out. But the customer service at this restaurant won our hearts. It awed me. While I am sure the duty manager who served us had his highs; as a career coach, I had my set of highs while experiencing this exceptional customer service.
I could draw the 7 parallels mentioned below between the exceptional customer service and habits to embrace for fast-track career growth which I must share with you all –
Lesson # 1: Be constantly aware of how you are doing your job
As we settled down in the restaurant, the duty manager came over to us briefed about their setup. He said they would serve the starters at the table and live-counter, main course and desserts would be self-serve.
As we had begun eating, he came to check on us how the food was.
So far, so good. I believe in most restaurants this scenario is common.
However, while we were eating, he came up to us multiple times. He kept asking if we were satisfied and if there is anything that he could do for us.
When he asked us for the first time, we responded that the food is good.
And when he asked us multiple times after that, we had the same response.
He politely explained that when we just say good, it doesn’t put him into a comfortable position. Good, he considered being in a red zone, if we say very good he probably would be at ease and consider being in the green zone.
We convinced him he was in the green zone and there wasn’t anything that was really bothering us.
You must fully know what others think of your work. To know, asking is the best way. And don’t just ask once and stop. Ask many times. Allow the person to speak up. Don’t stop when you hear–you are doing a good job. Instead, probe to understand what that good really, really means.
Lesson # 2: Read between the lines
Now, even though we had told the manager he was in the green zone; he still didn’t seem to be convinced.
Frankly, I liked the food; but wasn’t too convinced. There was a reason which I had not revealed. I didn’t want to give my judgment so early. So I had kept saying it was good.
The manager could sense that, so he kept asking if there was something that was bothering me. Is there something more he can do to make us comfortable? We kept giving our small inputs about taste and he kept coming to us with a better version of the same starter almost immediately.
And he didn’t just stop at that. He kept observing keenly. Trying to catch everything possible that was unsaid and reading between the lines.
Sometimes, what you get to hear is not exactly what the person feels deep inside his heart. You need to pay attention to what the person is not saying. Observe the body language, the way things are spoken, the tone and everything apart from just the words. Actions speak louder than the works. What is the person’s behavior telling you?
Lesson # 3: Flag issues at the right time
Despite his multiple attempts to get to know what was just good and not great, the manager understood it needs to be handled by someone senior to him. He had a quick chat with the restaurant manager, explained the scenario, and urged him to attend to us.
After a while, we saw the restaurant manager walking up to us. He introduced himself and asked for feedback.
However competent you may be, there would be times when things might slip from your hands. It is important at such times to be aware of it, accept it, and flag the issue to someone of authority who is better equipped to handle the situation. No sweat.
By doing so, you are exhibiting situational leadership and if you can do so at the right time; you save hours of effort to undo the wrong that might happen because of you trying to make the ends meet with your limited know-how. And your boss would definitely appreciate that.
Farsightedness and acceptance are essential skills that you need to develop.
Lesson # 4: Lead from the front
Now it was the restaurant manager who asked us how we found the food. We again said it was good.
He persisted. He asked again. And this time he changed his question slightly and exhibited a keen interest in knowing what exactly they could do to make our dining experience better.
I gave in.
All this while I was finding the entire menu very close to being the same as that of another restaurant who was its immediate competitor.
I had been going to that restaurant, and I came to this place because I was bored of the same menu that they served every time. And here I eat the same things that it bored us off.
Initially, he tried to convince me how they have brought about some variation, but I wasn’t influenced. He then asked me about the ambiance, customer service, and other factors; to which I responded positively. After this discussion, he promised to take this feedback seriously and make his best attempt to work on it.
There is no point convincing someone that you have done a great job when someone else feels you haven’t. It is vital to understand what others have in mind. It may happen. The person giving the feedback is looking at it from a perspective that you might not be. Be open. Embrace it. Consider it and look at what best you can do to work on it.
Lesson # 5: Be further involved
We gave our feedback bluntly. But that did not bother the duty manager (the person who interacted with us initially). He continued to give us flawless service, ensuring that we have the best experience although we were not too convinced on the food bit.
I happened to accidentally drop my napkin on the plate. Before I could ask, he had offered me another napkin. Many such instances followed. And it awed us.
Don’t be disheartened by negative feedback you get in one area. Largely I have seen people losing interest in every other thing they do just because they failed at a task.
Be positive. Work towards excelling in other areas. Go to an extent where the excellence exhibited in the other areas masks the non-performance in that one area.
Lesson # 6: Be thankful
As we paid the bill and were about to leave, the duty manager smiled at us. He thanked us for giving feedback and the opportunity to serve. He also said that they valued people like me who offered them constructive feedback. It helped them understand the customer’s point of view better. This helped them level up.
When someone offers to be your critique, be thankful. Don’t be prejudiced because a large majority is happy with your work. Even if one person is not, it is a splendid learning opportunity. That person can see what others overlook.
So surround yourself with such critiques. They always help you level up. And for doing so, thank them.
Lesson # 7: Do whatever it takes to manage the perception
Well, now you would expect we would have just left. Well, something unexpected happened before we did.
The duty manager after thanking us asked us to give a positive review about their restaurant–to family and friends, on social media, or probably any other avenue it might be. It amused me. I assured that I will and then we left.
Do all that it takes to manage your perceptions. Ask your critiques to critique you in person and praise you in public. Partner with them. State your expectations explicitly and let it work like a magic potion for your growth.
To sum up,
Though I was not thrilled with the food, I had a great dining experience. I left the place appreciating the customer service and the duty manager in particular.
Likewise, don’t aim to be a perfectionist. You can’t do everything right. Nor can you please everyone. But everything is a learning experience, and everyone can offer one. Cultivate these 7 habits and you are bound to set yourself up for fast-track growth.