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Wait to be seated until your party arrives

Everything we do and say communicates our value proposition

As a Chicago communications consultant I am always looking for examples (good and bad) of how businesses communicate their value proposition on a daily, operational basis. If you are committed to giving your customers a fabulous experience that standard needs to be apparent at every customer touch point.

wait-to-be-seated-until-your-party-arrives

Recently, I had two restaurant experiences that demonstrated what to do and not do if you truly value your customers.

  1. “We’ll seat you when the rest of your party arrives.”

    Doesn’t that make you feel loved and appreciated? I met a couple of colleagues for an early (5:45 p.m.) dinner in Chicago’s West Loop at a trendy new restaurant none of us had been to before. I arrived first and informed the hostess that my colleagues were running about 15 minutes late – stuck on the Kennedy in traffic. She promptly said the words I’ve grown to dread: “We’ll seat you when your party arrives.” I proceeded to step back and stand in a breezy doorway with my coat on, briefcase in hand and a purse slung over my shoulder. I felt a bit idiotic blocking the doorway and equated it to being punished and asked to sit in the corner.

    After a couple of minutes I approached the hostess again and asked her, politely, what was the rationale behind the restaurant’s policy? She proceeded to explain that when it gets really busy it is important so that it doesn’t interfere with the kitchen’s processing of orders. Not sure I completely understood this but I looked around and the restaurant was virtually empty with only one other table occupied. I mentioned this and she said she’d speak with her manager. She did and I was seated. My colleagues showed up within 10 minutes.

    How many people have I told about this experience and named the restaurant? Many. Suffice to say this was a Great customer experience opportunity with wildly uninspired execution.

  2. “Can’t wait to meet the rest of your party! Please come in, sit down, have a drink, they’ll be here shortly I’m sure!”

    A few days later still stinging from the experience I just described, I was scheduled for a lunch with another set of colleagues at a different restaurant. You guessed it – they were running late too (looks like I am hanging out with a tardy crowd!). I mentioned this to the host and he quickly responded with the line above. I immediately loved this restaurant and him! I mentioned my experience earlier in the week and with a smile he said, “We always believe our customers and if they say their party is on the way, we have no doubts. We’ve never been wrong.” I will return to this restaurant and am telling everyone about it.

    This was a Great customer experience opportunity with excellent execution.

What can you do?

In my role as a Chicago communications consultant I continually look at all the communication touch points a customer might encounter with a business from the first phone call to the last purchase. Everything a business does or says is part of the overall conversation that a business has with its customers. Here are some tips for you to keep in mind.

  • Pay attention to all touch points
  • Walk through and experience those points of intersection to evaluate critically through the customer lens
  • Don’t ask your customers to do anything you wouldn’t want to do
  • Empower your staff to make customer-friendly decisions

Let’s agree, we all want to hear – Welcome. Please, come be seated!