The words you say, the way you act, and your attitude toward your job and your customer are sometimes the difference between satisfactory and amazing. This became evident as I was having lunch with Tracy Nieporent, one of the partners at Myriad Restaurant Group. They are the successful owners of the famous Nobu restaurants, Tribeca Grill, and several others.
Tracy is very proud, and rightly so, about the food and service at all of his restaurants. After we were finished with our main course, the server stopped by and, with enthusiasm, asked, “What else can I get for you?”
Tracy became excited and asked me, “Did you notice that?” I wasn’t sure what he was referring to. He went on to say that she asked the right question. No, I didn’t notice. He emphasized that she asked, “What else can I get you?”
I thought, “Okay, that’s a nice question. But, what’s the big deal?” Tracy went on to explain that the way the servers are trained to ask certain questions, such as, “What else can I get for you?” are subtle but powerful ways of differentiating them from an average restaurant. Most servers would ask, “How is everything?” That’s fine and very nice. However, “What else can I get for you?” implies you want to do more for your customer. He knows words are important to the experience and wants his staff to properly ask the right questions, communicating with guests in ways that will most enhance their experience.
As I thought more about Tracy’s comment I realized that while it may appear to be a subtle enhancement, that doesn’t mean it’s important. It’s actually very important. It’s the difference between taking an order and serving a customer. The difference between answering a question and helping a customer. Or, the difference between resolving a complaint and restoring confidence. Not so subtle, is it? The right words can shift a mood and enhance the moment.
Think about when you may have made a request or asked for a small favor. A popular response from most people might be, “No problem.” However, a better response is, “It’s my pleasure.”
Can you see the difference? Some of these questions or sentences are more subtle than others. So, here is your homework assignment. Take time to think of the phrases you say day after day. Then, consider alternative ways of saying the same thing. Can you improve on your response? What’s the best way to phrase it? Properly structuring the words you use can be a powerful way to not only communicate better but to deliver a better customer experience.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
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