The other day I was at a restaurant and we were waited on by a fantastic waiter. The waiter exemplified great questions, great eye contact, positive body language, etc. We noticed another table very frustrated with their server. This is why restaurants need to coach their employees. The manager at this restaurant came up to our server seemingly towards the end of the shift and said, “Would you mind staying I need some additional help?” The inadequate server who had the table behind us was ignored and ultimately not challenged on her poor service. The person behind us looked at us and said “Boy, I wish I had your server.” As we walked out of the restaurant, I could hear the couple behind us walking out stating “I'll never come back here again!”
The mistake the manager made was condoning the behavior of the bad server by ignoring her which is nonverbal permission to continue to behave that way and seemingly adding more work to an employee who exemplified great skills and attitude. At no time during our meal did the manager reward the good server or challenge the behavior of the poor server. It has been estimated that when someone has a good experience at a business they tell anywhere from two to three people; whereas, when someone has a bad experience they will tell upwards of 18 to 20 people! What the manager should have done is thanked the good server for creating such a fantastic experience for us. In addition, she should have challenged the behavior of the bad server for the sake of maintaining a customer. When we choose to ignore things we have given permission for them to continue the way they are.
Some of the most powerful things that restaurants could do are the use of positive reinforcement, acknowledgment, rewarding positive behaviors with early time off and NOT more work. Secondly, all too often we give people free passes such as, “Well, this is just a side job for this person” and sadly this comes at the expense of the customer experience and ultimately the bottom line of the restaurant! We have to use the customer experience as our benchmark for when to reward and when to challenge!
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