April 4, 2013
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!)