He didn't realize he'd even said it, yet my husband had stopped in his tracks and had basically bellowed the question across the dining room of one of our favorite lunch spots. Upon entering the dining room, he'd done a quick scan to ensure April was there. When he didn't see her, without thinking, he opened his mouth, the question came out, and all the patrons, the other servers, and the chef stopped and looked at him.
"She took the day off. She'll be back tomorrow," the Chef growled.
My husband, Bob, continued through the dining room and joined Gina and me. "Well this stinks. She's not here," he said. "I know. It's Thursday and she's supposed to work Thursdays, " I whined. "So much for our strategy of coming here today because April would be here." Gina grumbled.
OK let me give you some background as to why we three adults were basically acting and sounding like whiny, spoiled kids because April wasn't working that day...
When our various schedules allow, the three of us eat lunch together during the week. It's our time to get out of the office, get away from the computers and phones, decompress, and well... eat. There are a limited selection of restaurants near our office building, so we've honed our favorites down to a handful. One of those is this particular cafe. The food is amazing. Truly. The chef makes incredible sandwiches, salads, soups, and other specials of the day. However, the service is not amazing. It's not even good. It's... tolerable. The chef growls and isn't sociable. The service staff is slow, disorganized, unfriendly, and let me say again, slow. It's not unusual to have to wait 45 minutes for a sandwich. But the food is amazing when it does finally arrive, so we typically select this restaurant when we don't have to rush back to the office.
Two months earlier, we had decided we could "waste" a bit of time over lunch so we selected this cafe. When we arrived and grabbed a table, a new server came to our table within 30 seconds of our having sat down. This shocked us, but then she took the shock factor up a notch because she was friendly. She even asked if we wanted menus or perhaps were already regulars who knew what we wanted. Then she took our drink orders. When she hustled away, the three of us looked at each other rather stunned. THIS was a whole new level of service. But the intrigue continued. She brought us our correct drinks in less than five minutes, and she somehow managed to have our food prepared so she could deliver it to our table in under 15 minutes! Amazing! Needless to say, we enjoyed our lunch and she received a nice tip.
The following Monday, I was traveling when I received a text message from Gina. Her name is April. She works Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I had no clue who or what she was talking about so when I asked, she texted back: The waitress! Her name is April and we got her schedule! Obviously Gina and Bob were at the cafe again and were enjoying lunch because of April.
When I was back in the office the following week, and lunch rolled around the conversation went something like this, "What are we doing for lunch today?" After the typical "Oh, I don't cares," and "I don't knows," I realized it was Thursday so I said, "Hey, it's Thursday! April's working today!" Without another word, the three of us headed out the door for lunch with April. When we arrived at the cafe, April smiled, pointed us to a table, joined us at the table and said, "Hey there! You're back. Would you like your usual drinks? Two waters and I believe you had an unsweetened tea the last time you were here right?" Holy cow this woman is amazing! She remembered me and what I like to drink! As was becoming the custom, she brought us our drinks quickly and again in less than 15 minutes -- our food. As she placed the food in front of each of us, she said, "You're going to love this special today. It's amazing." The food was amazing. It always was, but April was amazing and because of April, this cafe was now amazing.
So here we were, just a few short weeks later, and there was no April. Granted she was only gone for one day, but we all felt deflated. Sure the meal would be good, but we were back to the former level of service. No other wait staff would remember our drinks, no other wait staff would be particularly friendly, no other wait staff would hustle to get our meals to us, no other wait staff would make the experience amazing. They would take our orders and serve us our meals. That would apparently be enough for them. But it wouldn't be amazing for us.
April takes her job seriously. She doesn't do anything terribly difficult or technical. April simply ensures her customers are welcomed, remembered and served in a way they appreciate. April knows her customers expect a great meal. April ensures they have a great experience by doing what her customers appreciate. April is amazing.
So what might cause one of your customers to bellow, "Where's April?" What might cause your customers to wonder where the amazement is in how you service them? How do you train your staff to provide April-like service? What does your staff do to make your customers want to come back time and again. How have you created consistent April-like experiences for your customers?
Where's your April?
Copyright MMXIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!