Thinking About the Customer Experience
“Think about the customer experience.” This is what one of my supervisor’s years back use to tell his team all the time. It has stuck with me since that time because it is such a simple yet powerful statement. Whether we work for ourselves in an entrepreneurship or work for someone else within a company, understanding the experience of our customer is key to being successful at what we do.
The Tale of the Inexperienced Waiter
The other day I was watching the show Restaurant Stakeout on the Food Network. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, the series follows successful New York City restaurant owner William Jack “Willie” Degel, who goes behind the scenes of different restaurants across the country with hidden cameras to examine their service problems in order to help the owner of the restaurant. During the show, Willie and the restaurant owner saw one particular waiter take personal calls on his cell phone behind one of the counters while a group of four people were waiting at one of his tables. After a few minutes, he stopped talking on the phone and proceeded to wait on the group who were waiting for him to get off his phone. He never smiled while we has taking their orders. In fact, he never smile once throughout the evening. Once he took the group’s order he went back to talking on his cell phone while he walked back towards the kitchen to put in the order slip with the chef. After a little bit of time had passed, the food was ready in the kitchen for this group of people. Did the waiter go to check on this group’s order? Not immediately, not for a bit actually because he seemed to be in a deep social conversation with the person on the phone. To make matters a little worse for the group waiting for their food, a second group of people came in after they did, gave their order to their waiter (a completely separate waiter) and where already eating their food.
By the time the first waiter got off his phone and went to check on the group’s food, the food was already cold. He proceeded to pick up the food from the kitchen and bring it to the group. One immediately complained that the food was cold and on how long it took to get it. Especially after a group in the table next to them received their food first, even though they entered the restaurant after the first group.
What happened at the end of that encounter was interesting to say the least. When it came time for the group to pay the check, they proceeded to leave a small tip for the waiter that was so preoccupied with his cellphone conversation. When the waiter picked up the money left on the table, he noticed the small tip amount and chased after the group just before they left the restaurant. He “told them” that they forgot to leave him a tip. They of course said they didn’t believe he deserved a tip at all, let alone the tip he got, after the way they were treated throughout the evening. The waiter than said that they, the customers, were being really rude because he works hard to make sure they enjoy their meal and experience at the restaurant.
The waiter never did get any extra tip money out of that encounter and the customers told him that they will never be coming back to this restaurant if this is the way they should expect to be treated while dining here.
Had the waiter been more attentive and more sensible to the experience of his customers, he may have not just received a bigger tip, but he would have helped to ensure that these particular customers would have returned to the restaurant and keep giving him further tips. Maybe if he:
(1) Made sure that the customer did not wait any longer than they physically needed to prior to taking their dinner order,
(2) Took time to be attentive to any other need while they were awaiting for their dinner
(3) Smiled a little
(4) Even at the very least apologized for the food being cold.
The waiter may have affected the customer experience for the better. Maybe even convincing them to give the restaurant and him another chance to make it up to them.
What are your thoughts on the customer experience?