Speaking in Customer Service provides endless opportunities for observing the good and the bad, and occasionally you will encounter someone who is incredibly effective. Listen to this story of one restaurant experience with a server who was able to quickly read a situation and deliver outstanding customer service.

Video Transcript:

Every once-in-a-while, you have one of those customer service experiences that proves either:  that customer really is alive and well, or alternatively, the customer service is basically dead. When I run into those situations, I quite often will challenge people a little bit just to see how effective they really are. Recently, at a restaurant that Debbie and I frequent, I had one of these experiences.

We were seated, and the waitress, one that we had not had before, came up to the table, and the first thing that she did was ask us what we would like to drink.

Now she took a different approach. Normally, a waiter or waitress will come up and ask, “Can I get you something to drink?”

That normally is when I want to say something like I don’t know, can you? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I know it’s a little be sarcastic, but occupational hazard is what goes through my mind. Now in this case, she took a different approach.

Her question to us was “What kind of drink would you enjoy tonight?”

Well, that got my attention. Instead of the standard, “What can I get you to drink?” she asked me, “What kind of a drink would you enjoy tonight?”

She was taking an interest in what I wanted instead of being I-focused, “What can I get you?” she was you-focused and asked what did I want, what did I want to enjoy.

I thought we were off to a pretty good start. As she was getting ready to leave with the drink order, she asked the next question. “Would you like me to bring some of our great warm bread?”

By the way, this restaurant has wonderful bread. Now warm bread is a weakness of mine. I know it, I admit it. It’s a challenge. I love fresh warm bread.

I said, “I would love some, but here’s the deal. No matter how much I wine and complain for the entire meal you’re only allowed to bring me one basket of bread”.

She smiled and chuckled, and off she went. She brought the drinks, she brought the bread. A little while later the salads came. After delivering the salads, she said, “Is there anything else you would like right now?” Well, you know that I had to ask for more bread. Of course, my bread was gone, so I asked, “I would love another basket of bread to have with my salad”.

Without even missing a beat, she responded with “Is there anything other than more bread you would like?”

Well, I smiled and chuckled, and Debbie chuckled. Now I knew I had someone that I was going to work with for the evening because her answers were so quick, so sharp. In fact, she was so quick, I had to raise the bar a little bit.

On her next return to pick up the salad plates, she again asked if there was anything that we would like that could enhance our meal. Well, it was time for more bread.

I was insistent. I said, “I am really hungry. I didn’t have any lunch today. I would love some more of that bread”.

Well, she looked at me, she looked at Debbie and said, “I was told only one basket of bread”.

I took this opportunity to share with our waitress that the size of her tip depended completely on whether or not I was totally satisfied and that required more bread. She took a look at Debbie, and another quick look at me. Without missing a beat, as if she had practiced this whole script, she looked at me and said, “You know, I’ll take my chances on that one”.

She added, “I can get you another drink, but I simply can’t get you anymore bread. Would you like another drink?”

I laughed, Debbie laughed, and we knew this waitress was sharp.

Let me explain what impressed me so much about her.

First of all, she had an incredibly friendly demeanor. Her questions were always you-focused. Her concern was more about what we wanted than what she could bring to us, and her ability to think on her feet, her ability to assess the situation.  To take a look at me, take a look at Debbie, figure out if we were playing with her or serious, and to do that very, very quickly, and while doing that, formulate her next quick, very witty, yet always very friendly and professional response.

It’s very, very rare that people have that ability to think on their feet, respond on their feet, and it is something that you can learn.

It’s all about practice. It’s about becoming comfortable with who you are.

Most importantly … and I’ve discussed this in other blogs.  It’s maintaining a consistent you-focused presentation, maintaining your awareness of what the other people are interested in, what they want and what they’re looking for.

I invite you to really watch the people that you interact with. Learn from them. Learn from people who have a great sense of timing, and human relations and communications to see what you might be able to learn from them. Then watch how you are responding to other people.

Customer service is alive and well, just not in as many places as it should be. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you next week.