I was on a girl’s weekend recently with two friends I have known for nearly 30 years. Our friendships are rich and soulful. When we catch up with no kids, no partners, and no work to distract us, our agenda is fairly simple: to talk. The kind where we get into the juice of the conversation—the ‘deep and meaningfuls’, the flashbacks—that allows us to reconnect, reminisce and laugh.
On our first night, we went out to dinner. Our waiter introduced himself (James), told us the specials, suggested a few dishes, and kept our water glasses full but … and it’s a big but … fell short because he didn’t read us and meet us where we were at.
He annoyed us by being overly attentive; he interrupted us five times too many; he didn’t listen to our order; he tried to push the specials on us; and he didn’t allow us space, after dinner, to just sit on our wine before even thinking about dessert. He didn’t connect with us at a personal level, in fact, during the whole transaction, we felt we were being bossed around and hurried out the door. As a result, we felt uncared for.
It got me thinking about the whole care factor in service and how people define their level of care when in service of people. When I reflect on what I observed with James, I think he was focused more on productivity and less on relativity.
When we are so focused on the end result:
- we miss the non-verbal cues
- we miss the clues our customers give us
- we often misjudge the needs of the customer because we are so damn efficient in our role and focused on the outcome that we lose the very qualities that make us uniquely human.
Relativity, on the other hand, is about relating to the person in front of you by making the service exchange relative to the situation, needs, wants and emotions of the customer and being more focused on the process and making each moment count.
There was more money to be spent by us girls that night. We would have had more wine and dessert if we had just been left alone to settle in, and eat and drink at our own pace.
What’s the cost when we are so focused on the efficiencies and productivity that we forget to be curious about the people in front of us?
‘Love Being in Service’