My first impression was the place looked like a movie set. It was well after dark, and bright lights dazzled, bold colors beckoned, while big signs welcomed us to the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas. Home of the 72 oz. eat-it-all-in-an-hour-and-it’s-free steak dinner challenge.
I thought about taking the dare — but then decided the roast size hunk of meat, shrimp cocktail, dinner salad, baked potato, and roll were better left to cowboys with bigger appetites than my own. Besides, the special table and chairs, carefully placed in an honorable position at the center of the room, raised above the spectators who would ooh, giggle, whisper, and ah over the brave souls gulping down enormous amounts of vittles, was daunting. The thought of people watching me eat until sick, while on stage, was enough to make me toss the idea into the trash on my way in.
But here’s what really struck me. Something I know, but received a Texas-sized refresher on.
We can alter our experiences in positive ways with very little change, but a whole lot of intentionality. Here’s what I mean.
The waiter clacked toward us in his worn cowboy boots. “How ya’all doin’ tonight?”
Four of us, seated in a chilly booth, looked at each other as if to confirm we agreed, then said harmoniously, “Good. How about you?”
“I’m great. What can I getcha to drink tonight?”
I reached out, and gently placed my hand on his wrist. “Wait a minute. May I ask what your name is?”
Looking at bit stunned, (a reaction I often get in similar exchanges with wait staff), he said, “Well I’m Josh.”
I chuckled across the table at my friends from Ohio. “Then Josh from Texas, meet Josh from Ohio.”
“Seriously?” our waiter questioned.
“Absolutely,” I promised, then pointed to the woman seated next to our Josh. “This is his wife, Michelle. Next to me is, Tera, and I’m Anita. It’s a real pleasure to meet you, Josh from Texas.”
We all laughed, and the rest of the evening, Josh from Texas frequented our table, exchanged jokes and local folklore, while providing some of the best service in the country. It was a great night.
The next morning, I focused my attention on our female waitress. “Before you take our order, I like to get to know the folks who work so hard to take care of us. What’s your name?”
Our mid-fortiesh server blushed rose across her cheekbones and said, “I’m Terry. There’s a story behind my name. Do you want to hear it?”
“Of course,” I replied.
“Have you heard of Terry Moore? The actress?”
We all shook our heads no.
“She was in a movie from the fifties, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, I think. My grandfather loved that movie, and he picked my name because of her.”
As a group, we fussed over Terry, telling her how cool it was that she had a story like that behind her name. And the bonding began.
For the next forty-five minutes, that sweet Texan gal doted on us. She gushed and bubbled with excitement. Especially when she gifted us with free pancakes. (The best I’ve ever tasted by the way. Wow — what a treat.)
Again, we enjoyed an unusual and refreshing customer service experience.
So here’s the moral of my story. Often, as consumers, we treat those who wait on us as if they are invisible, less important, or deserve no better treatment than an endentured slave. Then we want to grumble, and sometimes even complain to their manager, when they respond with less than enthusiastic service.
So how do we impact our own customer service experience?
- Ask their name, making sure you use it at least three times when you’re with them.
- Express genuine appreciation for the hard work they do.
- Use words and phrases such as, “My pleasure, thank you, I appreciate it.”
In other words, show interest in them as a human being, and notice the job they do. Not only will you get better service, but I promise you’ll laugh more, or find out there’s someone in need you can show compassion to. But regardless of the circumstance, you will leave your meal feeling satisfaction, because you made a difference. After all, everyone wants to matter. With simple intentionality, you can acknowledge people who wait on you, and feel better after meeting them. Who knows? You may be the one customer who smiles, and helps them get through a long, tough day.
If your job was to wait on others, and you worked really hard behind the scenes, wouldn’t you appreciate acknowledgement instead of ingratitude?
Anita Fresh Faith
Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, and national speaker. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Lifeway, Christianbook.com, select Walmart’s, plus many fine stores, Christian and otherwise.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, and a client of WordServe Literary Group. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries. Anita co-hosts a weekly podcast, Engaging Life and Leadership with Darren Dake, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.
Anita is passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Her favorite past time is lounging by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.