Make Sure You’re Not “Washing Glasses!”

This post is for anyone in a leadership position.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I like to write about “extraordinary” examples of great service.  I love to be “wowed” by people taking great care of their customers.  I think it’s because great service seems to be a little unusual these days.

That’s a shame.

Too often we are underwhelmed by lackadaisical or apathetic service.  Instead of giving a little bit extra, many people believe that they are working in a job that is beneath them, so how they treat others doesn’t really matter.

A friend of mine, Matt Fagioli, shared two examples of really poor service he had experienced recently.  See if either of these stories look familiar to you.

Matt and his wife Sherri went out to dinner at one of their favorite Italian restaurants recently.  They were waiting at the bar having a glass of wine, while waiting for a table to come open in the dining room.

They asked the bartender, who was busy, if she could get them a basket of bread while they waited.  She basically said no, that she was too busy at the time.  The bar was packed, so Matt wasn’t upset. 

Time passed, and the bar started clearing out.  They ordered another glass of wine and decided to eat at the bar instead of continuing to wait on a table.  He again asked for a basket of bread.  About 15 minutes went by—no bread.

The bartender came close to where they were sitting and began washing glasses in the sink.  Matt was getting a little exasperated, and was really hungry, so he again asked her for bread.

I’m busy washing glasses,” she told him.

What’s more important?  Washing glasses or serving your customers?” he asked her.

Washing glasses,” she said.

Matt said he hit the roof and asked for the manager, who came over and essentially did nothing.

Here’s the funny part.  Matt and Sherri have eaten at this restaurant over fifty times in the last ten years.  He’s hosted parties with over thirty people in attendance.  Two times, he’s paid over $1000 for functions he’s held there.  He told me he won’t be going back.

The problem?  Neither the bartender, nor the manager had their priorities right.  They didn’t understand that it’s ALL about customer service.  This restaurant has plenty of competition, but they were acting as if they didn’t.  If the customers don’t walk through the door, there is no business!

What amazes me is that the owners are oblivious to what was going on within their four walls.  Maybe their priorities were off too.

Next example:

This week, Matt and I did a conference in Dallas, TX.  There were about 300 people in attendance.  Several large conference rooms were rented, hotel rooms were booked, and lots of food and drinks were bought.

In total, Matt personally spent about $5,000!  The banquet staff did a good job.  But…

The person who sold the package to Matt never left her office to come thank Matt for his business.  I guess it’s not important—it wasn’t a priority.  Not even a simple “Thank you!”

Matt will be holding another conference in Dallas next year.  He told me he’ll be shopping for another place to hold it.

I guess she was too busy ‘washing glasses.’”

The morale of these two stories—Be careful that you are clearly conveying your expectations with your people.  Make sure that they know what the real priorities are.

Or you may find yourself ‘washing glasses’ too!

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