As dinner wound down at the well-known steakhouse, our server, Joey, brought dessert and coffee. Now, just so you know, each of us in our party of four loves coffee, preferring it black and DARK.
As Joey walked away, though, we peered into our cups and expressed a collective, “Yuck!”
Have you heard the “hot water with a brown crayon dipped into it” phrase? That’s what we’d just been served.
At $2.95 per cup!
I waved Joey over to express some disappointment and get our small problem solved, but it wasn’t long before I realized I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.
Was he rude, snippy, or combative? No, not at all …
But he was about to … miss the moment.
What I’d hoped for was instant comprehension and a desire to please. Words like these would’ve been pitch perfect: “Oh my, that is not good. Ugh! So sorry. Let me brew a fresh pot and I won’t charge you for the coffee—because I want you to remember to come back!”
Not. What. Happened.
As if I was speaking Russian, he looked puzzled. After thirty seconds of working too hard to make my case, I even said, “Really, this looks like weak tea!”
So I asked, “Joey, do you drink coffee?”
Well, I thought, that explains half of his lack-of-empathy reaction.
But the other half most likely stemmed from the fact that he was missing that magical moment when outstanding customer service happens and memories are made.
Outstanding customer service takes place during those almost-too-short-to-notice-memory-creating timeframes called “moments” when someone sees and seizes the opportunity to create a powerfully positive memory that draws the customer back again and again and again.
The ability to perform like this is founded in asking The Question Behind the Question (QBQ), “What can I do right now to go above and beyond?”
Without a question like that, there won’t be much PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY—and without PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY, there won’t be any seizing of moments.
Nor will there be outstanding service.
This story ends with Joey bringing us the bill showing one of the four cups of “coffee” removed from our total. Was I entitled to free coffee? Of course not. But I bet the GM of this restaurant would agree that charging us $9 for brown water wasn’t a very a profitable thing to do.
The reality is this: In the suburbs surrounding Denver, there is an eatery on every corner. We are blessed with many options. Will we not go back to the steakhouse because of this missed moment? No. We might go back—but it’ll be because we love steak. We won’t go back because we left thinking, What an outstanding experience we had! We’ll never forget Joey and our evening there!
Next time we head out to eat, we’ll probably mosey on over to the Thornton, Colorado Olive Garden. For the Millers, the memory of a plate of spaghetti and a bottomless bowl of salad is enough to draw us back.
Something Joey just didn’t give us.
Share a story of when someone “seized the moment” (maybe it was you!) and provided outstanding service!