Apr 042013

The Nachos Don’t Have Enough Beef in Them

The Nachos Don’t Have Enough Beef in Them

Short story, two powerful lessons.

Story:  I’m sitting at the bar of Sam Snead’s Tavern in Port St. Lucie, Florida, having dinner solo while I wait for my friend to arrive.  I ask the bartender where he’s from, since he has a slight accent.  Nice conversation about how life is rough in Belfast and thank goodness for the American dream.  I ask him what to order for dinner and tell him a couple menu items I’m contemplating.  He says, “I don’t know why they don’t listen to me.  I keep telling them that all the people here say that the nachos aren’t good because they don’t have enough beef in them.”  I order something else.  Five minutes later, someone else pounds his hand on the bar and barks out “Give me a Heineken and a plate of nachos.”  The bartender enters the order into the point-of-sale system.

Lesson 1:  Listen to your front-line employees – in fact, make them your customer research team.  I’ve seen and heard this time and again.  Employees deal with unhappy customers, then roll their eyes, knowing full well about all the problems the customers are encountering, and also believing that management either knows already or doesn’t care.  Or both.  There’s no reason for this!  At a minimum, you should always listen to your customer-facing employees, internalize the feedback, and act on it.  They hear and see it all.  Next best prize – ask them questions.  Better yet – get them to actively solicit customer feedback.

Lesson 2:  Always remember another person’s person-ness, especially if he or she is in a service role.  The old story about the waiter spitting and coughing in the obnoxious customer’s soup would dictate that self-preservation, if nothing else, should inspire civility towards people who are serving you, be it a B2B account manager or a waiter in a diner.  Next best prize – self-interest to get a higher level of service.  Better yet – engagement and kindness like you’d want people to show you.  Chances are, they’re trying to make your day a bit better.  Shouldn’t you try to do the same for theirs?

(Lesson 3:  Always listen to your bartender!)

Filed under: Business, Management, Sales

  • kevinfriedman

    Great reminder. I was just saying to my co-founder yesterday how helpful (though difficult) it has been to answer customer support tickets. Is there a better way to have your "pulse" on customer sentiment and even inform product development? Of course, we're a small startup so we all share in this work but I'm concerned about the day when we grow and I become completely removed from this process. Honestly, I wonder if we should continue sending these tickets to everyone! :-) I've gotten much better insight into Zappo's emphasis on customer service and how you can really build a company around it.

    • Matt Blumberg

      When I ran online for MovieFone, the job of answering customer emails was handed to each new employee on the team until the next new employee started. No better way to get the feel for a business or product.Matt

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