By Shep Hyken
The other day I went out to breakfast with some friends. There were eight of us, so we needed two tables pushed together. The restaurant was crowded. The hostess pointed to a table and said when that party got up, we could have their table and the table next to them, which was empty. It looked like they were almost finished with their breakfast, but we had no idea how long that might be.
I noticed that on the other side of the occupied table there was another empty table. It looked like there was enough room to bring that table over to the empty one she was holding for us. I asked if she could do that. Her response was, “No, we can’t. That table has a different server and I’m not sure how we would divide the tips.”
Interesting answer—she wasn’t sure how the servers could divide the tips…. What about dividing them in half? No, that would be too easy. I was surprised. While I appreciated her honest response, it seemed like she was more interested in how tips were split between employees than in taking care of customers. I thought to myself, “I probably didn’t need to hear that.”
I don’t run a restaurant, and maybe this is a smaller problem than I see it, but common sense dictates two things. First, let the servers work it out. Second, take care of the customers and move the tables.
There is an old saying about knowing how sausage in the sausage factory is made. You may like the sausage, but when you find out how they make it, you may never want to eat it again. This reminded me of the sausage factory metaphor. I liked the honesty of the answer but didn’t like the content of the answer, even if it was an accurate explanation.
I think you get the point. There are certain things employees should never say to a customer. How do they learn what not to say? Training. But the real goal of training isn’t to teach employees about specific things to share or not share with customers. It’s to teach the common sense that you shouldn’t say anything that isn’t customer-friendly. Think before you speak.
I’m reminded of the article I wrote earlier this year about Cameron Mitchell. His signature saying is, “Yes is the answer. What is the question?” He sees the word yes as an attitude, not just a response. He knows there are times you can’t say yes, so that’s when you come up with a creative solution that makes the customer happy. What you don’t do is say no and give the customer an answer that is the opposite of customer-focused. Remember, you must constantly train your employees—and yourself—to stay customer-focused and customer-friendly.
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