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Delighting the Customer
“Good morning. Welcome to IHOP. Table for two? Right this way.”
Unremarkable words, but he said it with such a sparkle in his eyes, such genuine enthusiasm and delight that it took us aback. This little guy was really glad we were there. It wasn’t an act. It wasn’t just words he mumbled by rote because his job demanded it. He was happy to receive us as his guests and serve us.
Next, our waiter, Manuel, came to the table and it was the same thing. He was warm, friendly, totally engaged, and eager to please. He obviously enjoyed his work. And he did an extraordinarily good job. We were impressed to the point of being astounded. This was a world apart from the norm. How pleasant. How refreshing. What a damning commentary on most other service providers.
We’d been doing some training in Los Angeles, and now it was time to fly home. So, we thought we’d get breakfast at the IHOP at Sepulveda and Manchester just down from LAX before we left.
What made this encounter stand out in such a bold way was how starkly it contrasted with the generally lousy and pro-forma service we’d experienced throughout our time in LA. It was either indifferent or just plain bad … sometimes even a little hostile. Can you relate? Oh, yeah.
So, why are we telling you this? Because there’s a simple and powerful message here. Nothing will make clients flock to you and love you like genuine enthusiasm, concern for their wellbeing, and a clear desire to serve them.
Be delighted that you get the chance to serve people and take delight in providing the service. And do a great job for them. Surprise them by giving them more than they expected.
By the way, we noticed a sign over the order pickup area in the kitchen a sign that said:
Be there for me.
Listen to me.
Treat me nicely.
It was clear someone had done some great team development work with the staff. Great service doesn’t happen by accident. If you have a staff of your own, talk with them about your desire to delight the customer, and work with them on how to do achieve it.
Life’s too short and your business is too precious for you or anyone on your team to just go through the motions. Make encounters with your clients special. If the folks at the IHOP can do it while performing a mundane function … we all can.
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