I was chatting with my friend Melanie today about our recent holiday activities, and, as she knows I love to hear stuff like this, she had a couple of stories ready for me.

Melanie and her husband were early for meeting their friends at a very fancy schmancy steakhouse in the city, and because she can’t drink alcohol, she asked the bartender what she might have available that could be kinda fun and served in a festive glass. The bartender thought for a minute and pointed to the list of flavored, bottled seltzers and suggested one of those. Melanie agreed and got a bottle of fizzy water and a glass of ice. Whoo hoo!

Wouldn’t you agree that the bartender missed a great opportunity to engage with a customer, make a positive impression, and yes, even improve on her tips?

Same week, same person, different restaurant.

The crazy intersection of plans and people found Melinda and her husband leaving a gathering at the same time as another couple that they liked. The second couple had dinner reservations at a nice place and it was decided that they would see if others might be able to join them. A phone call revealed that the place was jammed (Christmas weekend and all) and the other two could not be added to the reservation. Oh, too bad, but why not let’s all have a drink at the bar before hand? So, once again, Melanie looks at the bar list and sees a list of specialty coffee drinks, and she asks the bartender if he can think of a fun coffee drink that could be served in a festive glass, but didn’t have alcohol? Hmmm. Apparently not. He couldn’t come up with one, but served her one cup of coffee in a ceramic cup. Never gave her a refill. So much for catering to the Designated Drivers among us, eh?

The two couples parted ways when the host came to say the reservation was ready. Whadya think? A table for four – but now only two diners remained. Lost opportunities everywhere to allow the guests to spend their money, don’t you think?

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Tags: care, customer, service

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Comment by Michael Biesemeyer on December 29, 2009 at 10:03am
@ Dorothy: so true!

A lack of imagination will 'kill' a service professional (and the transaction) every time. This industry needs to celebrate and hold up those individuals who are motivated by something other than self-interest or personal gain. The server or bartender who would react to such a request with little to know enthusiasm or creativity should hang up his apron and go stuff envelopes for a living. Seriously...

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